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mTORC1 Is Transiently Reactivated in Injured Nerves to Promote c-Jun Elevation and Schwann Cell Dedifferentiation.

Schwann cells (SCs) are endowed with a remarkable plasticity. When peripheral nerves are injured, SCs dedifferentiate and acquire new functions to coordinate nerve repair as so-called repair SCs. Subsequently, SCs redifferentiate to remyelinate regenerated axons. Given the similarities between SC dedifferentiation/redifferentiation in injured nerves and in demyelinating neuropathies, elucidating the signals involved in SC plasticity after nerve injury has potentially wider implications. c-Jun has emerged as a key transcription factor regulating SC dedifferentiation and the acquisition of repair SC features. However, the upstream pathways that control c-Jun activity after nerve injury are largely unknown. We report that the mTORC1 pathway is transiently but robustly reactivated in dedifferentiating SCs. By inducible genetic deletion of the functionally crucial mTORC1-subunit Raptor in mouse SCs (including male and female animals), we found that mTORC1 reactivation is necessary for proper myelin clearance, SC dedifferentiation, and consequently remyelination, without major alterations in the inflammatory response. In the absence of mTORC1 signaling, c-Jun failed to be upregulated correctly. Accordingly, a c-Jun binding motif was found to be enriched in promoters of genes with reduced expression in injured mutants. Furthermore, using cultured SCs, we found that mTORC1 is involved in c-Jun regulation by promoting its translation, possibly via the eIF4F-subunit eIF4A. These results provide evidence that proper c-Jun elevation after nerve injury involves also mTORC1-dependent post-transcriptional regulation to ensure timely dedifferentiation of SCs.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT A crucial evolutionary acquisition of vertebrates is the envelopment of axons in myelin sheaths produced by oligodendrocytes in the CNS and Schwann cells (SCs) in the PNS. When myelin is damaged, conduction of action potentials along axons slows down or is blocked, leading to debilitating diseases. Unlike oligodendrocytes, SCs have a high regenerative potential, granted by their remarkable plasticity. Thus, understanding the mechanisms underlying SC plasticity may uncover new therapeutic targets in nerve regeneration and demyelinating diseases. Our work reveals that reactivation of the mTORC1 pathway in SCs is essential for efficient SC dedifferentiation after nerve injury. Accordingly, modulating this signaling pathway might be of therapeutic relevance in peripheral nerve injury and other diseases.

Pubmed ID: 29695414 RIS Download

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