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J Neurosci. 2009 Feb 11;29(6):1773-83. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5685-08.2009.

Pharmacological inhibition of mTORC1 suppresses anatomical, cellular, and behavioral abnormalities in neural-specific Pten knock-out mice.

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  • 1Department of Developmental Biology and Kent Waldrep Foundation Center for Basic Neuroscience Research on Nerve Growth and Regeneration, and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas 75390, USA.


PTEN (phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted on chromosome ten) is a lipid phosphatase that counteracts the function of phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI3K). Loss of function of PTEN results in constitutive activation of AKT and downstream effectors and correlates with many human cancers, as well as various brain disorders, including macrocephaly, seizures, Lhermitte-Duclos disease, and autism. We previously generated a conditional Pten knock-out mouse line with Pten loss in limited postmitotic neurons in the cortex and hippocampus. Pten-null neurons developed neuronal hypertrophy and loss of neuronal polarity. The mutant mice exhibited macrocephaly and behavioral abnormalities reminiscent of certain features of human autism. Here, we report that rapamycin, a specific inhibitor of mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1), can prevent and reverse neuronal hypertrophy, resulting in the amelioration of a subset of PTEN-associated abnormal behaviors, providing evidence that the mTORC1 pathway downstream of PTEN is critical for this complex phenotype.

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