Persistently Elevated mTOR Complex 1-S6 Kinase 1 Disrupts DARPP-32–Dependent D1 Dopamine Receptor Signaling and Behaviors

Raozhou Lin, Lisa N. Learman, Chan Hyun Na, Santosh Renuse, Kevin T. Chen, Po Yu Chen, Gum Hwa Lee, Bo Xiao, Susan M. Resnick, Juan C. Troncoso, Karen K. Szumlinski, David J. Linden, Joo Min Park, Alena Savonenko, Akhilesh Pandey, Paul F. Worley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: The serine-threonine kinase mTORC1 (mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1) is essential for normal cell function but is aberrantly activated in the brain in both genetic-developmental and sporadic diseases and is associated with a spectrum of neuropsychiatric symptoms. The underlying molecular mechanisms of cognitive and neuropsychiatric symptoms remain controversial. Methods: The present study examines behaviors in transgenic models that express Rheb, the most proximal known activator of mTORC1, and profiles striatal phosphoproteomics in a model with persistently elevated mTORC1 signaling. Biochemistry, immunohistochemistry, electrophysiology, and behavior approaches are used to examine the impact of persistently elevated mTORC1 on D1 dopamine receptor (D1R) signaling. The effect of persistently elevated mTORC1 was confirmed using D1-Cre to elevate mTORC1 activity in D1R neurons. Results: We report that persistently elevated mTORC1 signaling blocks canonical D1R signaling that is dependent on DARPP-32 (dopamine- and cAMP-regulated neuronal phosphoprotein). The immediate downstream effector of mTORC1, ribosomal S6 kinase 1 (S6K1), phosphorylates and activates DARPP-32. Persistent elevation of mTORC1-S6K1 occludes dynamic D1R signaling downstream of DARPP-32 and blocks multiple D1R responses, including dynamic gene expression, D1R-dependent corticostriatal plasticity, and D1R behavioral responses including sociability. Candidate biomarkers of mTORC1–DARPP-32 occlusion are increased in the brain of human disease subjects in association with elevated mTORC1-S6K1, supporting a role for this mechanism in cognitive disease. Conclusions: The mTORC1-S6K1 intersection with D1R signaling provides a molecular framework to understand the effects of pathological mTORC1 activation on behavioral symptoms in neuropsychiatric disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1058-1072
Number of pages15
JournalBiological psychiatry
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2021


  • D dopamine receptor
  • DARPP-32
  • Immediate early gene
  • S6K1
  • Social behavior
  • mTORC1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry


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