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Elucidating the Effects of PRAS40 on Learning and Memory

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The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is integral in regulating cell growth as it maintains a homeostatic balance of proteins by modulating their synthesis and degradation. In the brain, mTOR regulates protein-driven neuroplastic changes that modulate learning and memory. Nevertheless,

The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is integral in regulating cell growth as it maintains a homeostatic balance of proteins by modulating their synthesis and degradation. In the brain, mTOR regulates protein-driven neuroplastic changes that modulate learning and memory. Nevertheless, upregulation of mTOR can cause detrimental effect in spatial memory and synaptic plasticity. The proline-rich Akt-substrate 40 kDa (PRAS40) is a key negative regulator of mTOR, as it binds mTOR and directly reduces its activity. To investigate the role of PRAS40 on learning and memory, we generated a transgenic mouse model in which we used the tetracycline-off system to regulate the expression of PRAS40 specifically in neurons of the hippocampus. After induction, we found that mice overexpressing PRAS40 performed better than control mice in the Morris Water Maze behavioral test. We further show that the improvement in memory was associated with a decrease in mTOR signaling, an increase in dendritic spines in hippocampal pyramidal neurons, and an increase in the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a neurotrophin necessary for learning and memory. This is the first evidence that shows that increasing PRAS40 in the mouse brain enhances learning and memory deficits.

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Date Created
2018-05