Mechanistic target of rapamycin regulates the oligodendrocyte cytoskeleton during myelination

Aminat S. Musah, Tanya L. Brown, Marisa A. Jeffries, Quan Shang, Hirokazu Hashimoto, Angelina V. Evangelou, Alison Kowalski, Mona Batish, Wendy B. Macklin, Teresa L. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


During differentiation, oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) extend a network of processes that make contact with axons and initiate myelination. Recent studies revealed that actin polymerization is required for initiation of myelination whereas actin depolymerization promotes myelin wrapping. Here, we used primary OPCs in culture isolated from neonatal rat cortices of both sexes and young male and female mice with oligodendrocyte-specific deletion of mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) to demonstrate that mTOR regulates expression of specific cytoskeletal targets and actin reorganization in oligodendrocytes during developmental myelination. Loss or inhibition of mTOR reduced expression of profilin2 and ARPC3, actin polymerizing factors, and elevated levels of active cofilin, which mediates actin depolymerization. The deficits in actin polymerization were revealed in reduced phalloidin and deficits in oligodendrocyte cellular branching complexity at the peak of morphologic differentiation and a delay in initiation of myelination. We further show a critical role for mTOR in expression and localization of myelin basic protein (Mbp) mRNA and MBP protein to the cellular processes where it is necessary at the myelin membrane for axon wrapping. Mbp mRNA transport deficits were confirmed by single molecule RNA FISH. Moreover, expression of the kinesin family member 1B, an Mbp mRNA transport protein, was reduced in CC11 cells in the mTOR cKO and in mTOR inhibited oligodendrocytes undergoing differentiation in vitro. These data support the conclusion that mTOR regulates both initiation of myelination and axon wrapping by targeting cytoskeletal reorganization and MBP localization to oligodendrocyte processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2993-3007
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number15
StatePublished - Apr 8 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)


  • ArpC3
  • Cytoskeleton
  • MBP
  • MTOR
  • Myelination
  • Oligodendrocyte


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