Neuronal activity increases energy consumption and requires balanced production to maintain neuronal function. How activity is coupled to energy production remains incompletely understood. Here, we report that Rheb regulates mitochondrial tricarboxylic acid cycle flux of acetyl-CoA by activating pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) to increase ATP production. Rheb is induced by synaptic activity and lactate and dynamically trafficked to the mitochondrial matrix through its interaction with Tom20. Mitochondria-localized Rheb protein is required for activity-induced PDH activation and ATP production. Cell-type-specific gain- and loss-of-function genetic models for Rheb reveal reciprocal changes in PDH phosphorylation/activity, acetyl-CoA, and ATP that are not evident with genetic or pharmacological manipulations of mTORC1. Mechanistically, Rheb physically associates with PDH phosphatase (PDP), enhancing its activity and association with the catalytic E1α-subunit of PDH to reduce PDH phosphorylation and increase its activity. Findings identify Rheb as a nodal point that balances neuronal activity and neuroenergetics via Rheb-PDH axis.
Keywords: Rheb; mTORC1; mitochondria; neuroenergetics; neuronal activity; pyruvate dehydrogenase.
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