Myopathy caused by mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) inactivation is not reversed by restoring mitochondrial function

Klaas Romanino, Laetitia Mazelin, Verena Albert, Agnès Conjard-Duplany, Shuo Lin, C. Florian Bentzinger, Christoph Handschin, Pere Puigserver, Francesco Zorzato, Laurent Schaeffer, Yann Gaël Gangloff, Markus A. Rüegg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) is central to the control of cell, organ, and body size. Skeletal muscle-specific inactivation of mTORC1 in mice results in smaller muscle fibers, fewer mitochondria, increased glycogen stores, and a progressive myopathy that causes premature death. In mTORC1-deficient muscles, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1-α (PGC-1α), which regulates mitochondrial biogenesis and glucose homeostasis, is strongly down-regulated. Here we tested whether induction of mitochondrial biogenesis pharmacologically or by the overexpression of PGC-1α is sufficient to reverse the phenotype of mice deficient for mTORC1. We show that both approaches normalize mitochondrial function, such as oxidative capacity and expression of mitochondrial genes. However, they do not prevent or delay the progressive myopathy. In addition, we find that mTORC1 has a much stronger effect than PGC-1α on the glycogen content in muscle. This effect is based on the strong activation of PKB/Akt in mTORC1-deficient mice. We also show that activation of PKB/Akt not only affects glycogen synthesis but also diminishes glycogen degradation. Thus, our work provides strong functional evidence that mitochondrial dysfunction in mice with inactivated mTORC1 signaling is caused by the down-regulation of PGC-1α. However, our data also show that the impairment of mitochondria does not lead directly to the lethal myopathy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20808-20813
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number51
StatePublished - Dec 20 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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