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J Neurosci. 2019 Apr 3;39(14):2762-2773. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2260-18.2019. Epub 2019 Jan 30.

mTOR Hyperactivity Levels Influence the Severity of Epilepsy and Associated Neuropathology in an Experimental Model of Tuberous Sclerosis Complex and Focal Cortical Dysplasia.

Author information

1
Department of Neurosurgery, and.
2
Department of Neurosurgery, and angelique.bordey@yale.edu.
3
Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06520.

Abstract

Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) and focal cortical dysplasia (FCD) are focal malformations of cortical development (FMCDs) that are highly associated with intractable epilepsy. TSC and FCD are mTORopathies caused by a spectrum of pathogenic variants in the mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway genes leading to differential activation of mTOR signaling. However, whether the degree of mTOR hyperactivity influences disease severity remains unclear. Here, we examined the effects of differential mTOR hyperactivity levels on epilepsy and associated neuropathology in a mouse model of TSC and FCD. Constitutively active Rheb (RhebCA), the canonical activator of mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1), was expressed in mouse embryos of either sex via in utero electroporation at low, intermediate, and high concentrations to induce different mTORC1 activity levels in developing cortical neurons. We found that RhebCA expression induced mTORC1 hyperactivation and increased neuronal soma size and misplacement in a dose-dependent manner. No seizures were detected in the low RhebCA mice, whereas the intermediate and high RhebCA mice displayed spontaneous, recurrent seizures that significantly increased with higher RhebCA concentrations. Seizures were associated with a global increase in microglial activation that was notably higher in the regions containing RhebCA-expressing neurons. These data demonstrate that neuronal mTOR hyperactivity levels influence the severity of epilepsy and associated neuropathology in experimental TSC and FCD. Overall, these findings highlight the importance of evaluating the outcome of individual variants on mTOR activity levels and support personalized medicine strategies based on patient variants and mTOR activity level for TSC, FCD, and potentially other mTORopathies.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) and focal cortical dysplasia (FCD) are epileptogenic cortical malformations caused by pathogenic variants in mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway genes leading to differential mTOR hyperactivation. Here, we present novel findings that neuronal mTOR hyperactivity levels correlate with the severity of epilepsy and associated neuropathology in a mouse model of TSC and FCD. Our findings suggest the need to evaluate the outcome of individual variants on mTOR activity levels in clinical assessments and support personalized medicine strategies based on patient variants and mTOR activity level. Additionally, we present useful modifications to a previously described mouse model of TSC and FCD that allows for titration of seizure frequency and generation of a mild to severe epilepsy phenotype as applicable for preclinical drug testing and mechanistic studies.

KEYWORDS:

epilepsy; focal cortical dysplasia; mTOR; microglia; personalized medicine; tuberous sclerosis complex

PMID:
30700531
PMCID:
PMC6445990
[Available on 2019-10-03]
DOI:
10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2260-18.2019

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