Maf1 is an intrinsic suppressor against spontaneous neural repair and functional recovery after ischemic stroke

Chi Kwan Tsang, Qiongjie Mi, Guangpu Su, Gum Hwa Lee, Xuemin Xie, Gabriella D'Arcangelo, Li'an Huang, X. F. Steven Zheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Spontaneous recovery after CNS injury is often very limited and incomplete, leaving most stroke patients with permanent disability. Maf1 is known as a key growth suppressor in proliferating cells. However, its role in neuronal cells after stroke remains unclear. Objective: We aimed to investigate the mechanistic role of Maf1 in spontaneous neural repair and evaluated the therapeutic effect of targeting Maf1 on stroke recovery. Methods: We used mouse primary neurons to determine the signaling mechanism of Maf1, and the cleavage-under-targets-and-tagmentation-sequencing to map the whole-genome promoter binding sites of Maf1 in isolated mature cortical neurons. Photothrombotic stroke model was used to determine the therapeutic effect on neural repair and functional recovery by AAV-mediated Maf1 knockdown. Results: We found that Maf1 mediates mTOR signaling to regulate RNA polymerase III (Pol III)-dependent rRNA and tRNA transcription in mouse cortical neurons. mTOR regulates neuronal Maf1 phosphorylation and subcellular localization. Maf1 knockdown significantly increases Pol III transcription, neurite outgrowth and dendritic spine formation in neurons. Conversely, Maf1 overexpression suppresses such activities. In response to photothrombotic stroke in mice, Maf1 expression is increased and accumulates in the nucleus of neurons in the peripheral region of infarcted cortex, which is the key region for neural remodeling and repair during spontaneous recovery. Intriguingly, Maf1 knockdown in the peri-infarct cortex significantly enhances neural plasticity and functional recovery. Mechanistically, Maf1 not only interacts with the promoters and represses Pol III-transcribed genes, but also those of CREB-associated genes that are critical for promoting plasticity during neurodevelopment and neural repair. Conclusion: These findings indicate Maf1 as an intrinsic neural repair suppressor against regenerative capability of mature CNS neurons, and suggest that Maf1 is a potential therapeutic target for enhancing functional recovery after ischemic stroke and other CNS injuries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Advanced Research
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


  • Axon regeneration
  • Functional recovery and neural repair
  • Ischemic stroke
  • Maf1
  • mTOR


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