Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2014

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Molecular and Cellular Biology

First Advisor

Rahmouni, Kamal

First Committee Member

Adams, Christopher M.

Second Committee Member

Chapleau, Mark W.

Third Committee Member

Gonzalez-Alegre, Pedro

Fourth Committee Member

Rutkowski, D. Thomas


The mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) is an evolutionary conserved serine/threonine kinase regulating diverse cellular functions, including cell growth, protein synthesis and sensing nutrients and energy status. Prior studies have identified the involvement of hypothalamic mTORC1 in the control of energy balance, renal sympathetic activation and blood pressure regulation.

Hypothalamic insulin receptor signaling through the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) is known to regulate energy homeostasis and sympathetic nerve activity (SNA). We examined the role of hypothalamic mTORC1 in the anorectic and sympathetic effects of central insulin. mTORC1 inhibition by rapamycin or PI3K mutation resulted in blunted regional SNA responses to insulin. Rapamycin also blunted appetite-suppressing and body weight-reducing effects of insulin. Furthermore, biochemical analyses revealed PI3K-dependent activation of mTORC1 pathway by insulin in the arcuate nucleus of hypothalamus (ARC), where insulin initiates its central actions. These results indicate the significant contribution of mTORC1 pathway in the ARC to the central action of insulin on the regulation of energy homeostasis and SNA.

Angiotensin II (Ang II) is a vasoconstrictive and anti-diuretic peptide produced in the renin-angiotensin system (RAS). Local brain RAS plays an important role in the control of blood pressure, electrolyte and fluid balance. Stimulation of Ang type 1 receptor (AT1R) by Ang II in the cardiovascular brain nuclei triggers drinking and pressor responses. Chronic Ang II action in CNS leads to transcriptional neuromodulation, which in turn, contributes to the development and maintenance of hypertension. Intracellular signaling cascades responsible for neuronal Ang II's actions include PI3K and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) pathways, which are known upstream effectors of mTORC1 in peripheral tissues. We investigated the involvement of mTORC1 signaling in the brain Ang II actions. Ang II was capable of activating mTORC1 in neuronal cell line and mouse brain, however mTORC1 inhibition had no influence on the drinking and pressor responses to Ang II. Moreover, we found an upregulated mTORC1 activity in the SFO of hypertensive transgenic mice with overactive brain RAS (sRA mice). Importantly, mTORC1 inhibition normalized systolic blood pressure in sRA mice. These results support a potential role of mTORC1 in the maintenance of neurogenic hypertension.

Overall, data presented in this thesis provide a better understanding of neuronal mTORC1 function as a key effector component of insulin or Ang II-mediating regulation of physiological and pathophysiological processes.


Angiotensin II, Brain, Hypertension, Insulin, Obesity, Sympathetic nerve activity


xiii, 104 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 83-104).


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Copyright © 2014 Kenjiro Muta

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