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Cell Metab. 2009 Apr;9(4):362-74. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2009.03.005.

Critical role for hypothalamic mTOR activity in energy balance.

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Life Sciences Institute, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.


The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) promotes anabolic cellular processes in response to growth factors and metabolic cues. The TSC1 and TSC2 tumor suppressors are major upstream inhibitory regulators of mTOR signaling. Mice with Rip2/Cre-mediated deletion of Tsc1 (Rip-Tsc1cKO mice) developed hyperphagia and obesity, suggesting that hypothalamic disruption (for which Rip2/Cre is well known) of Tsc1 may dysregulate feeding circuits via mTOR activation. Indeed, Rip-Tsc1cKO mice displayed increased mTOR signaling and enlarged neuron cell size in a number of hypothalamic populations, including Pomc neurons. Furthermore, Tsc1 deletion with Pomc/Cre (Pomc-Tsc1cKO mice) resulted in dysregulation of Pomc neurons and hyperphagic obesity. Treatment with the mTOR inhibitor, rapamycin, ameliorated the hyperphagia, obesity, and the altered Pomc neuronal morphology in developing or adult Pomc-Tsc1cKO mice, and cessation of treatment reinstated these phenotypes. Thus, ongoing mTOR activation in Pomc neurons blocks the catabolic function of these neurons to promote nutrient intake and increased adiposity.

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