Although mTOR signaling is known as a broad regulator of cell growth and proliferation, in neurons it regulates synaptic transmission, which is thought to be a major mechanism through which altered mTOR signaling leads to neurological disease. Although previous studies have delineated postsynaptic roles for mTOR, whether it regulates presynaptic function is largely unknown. Moreover, the mTOR kinase operates in two complexes, mTORC1 and mTORC2, suggesting that mTOR's role in synaptic transmission may be complex-specific. To better understand their roles in synaptic transmission, we genetically inactivated mTORC1 or mTORC2 in cultured mouse glutamatergic hippocampal neurons. Inactivation of either complex reduced neuron growth and evoked EPSCs (eEPSCs), however, the effects of mTORC1 on eEPSCs were postsynaptic and the effects of mTORC2 were presynaptic. Despite postsynaptic inhibition of evoked release, mTORC1 inactivation enhanced spontaneous vesicle fusion and replenishment, suggesting that mTORC1 and mTORC2 differentially modulate postsynaptic responsiveness and presynaptic release to optimize glutamatergic synaptic transmission.
Keywords: mTOR signaling; molecular biophysics; mouse; neuroscience; structural biology; synaptic transmission; synaptic vesicle release.
© 2020, McCabe et al.