A new functional role for mechanistic/mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) in the circadian regulation of L-type voltage-gated calcium channels in avian cone photoreceptors.
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In the retina, the L-type voltage-gated calcium channels (L-VGCCs) are responsible for neurotransmitter release from photoreceptors and are under circadian regulation. Both the current densities and protein expression of L-VGCCs are significantly higher at night than during the day. However, the underlying mechanisms of circadian regulation of L-VGCCs in the retina are not completely understood. In this study, we demonstrated that the mechanistic/mammalian target of rapamycin complex (mTORC) signaling pathway participated in the circadian phase-dependent modulation of L-VGCCs. The activities of the mTOR cascade, from mTORC1 to its downstream targets, displayed circadian oscillations throughout the course of a day. Disruption of mTORC1 signaling dampened the L-VGCC current densities, as well as the protein expression of L-VGCCs at night. The decrease of L-VGCCs at night by mTORC1 inhibition was in part due to a reduction of L-VGCC1 subunit translocation from the cytosol to the plasma membrane. Finally, we showed that mTORC1 was downstream of the phosphatidylionositol 3 kinase-protein kinase B (PI3K-AKT) signaling pathway. Taken together, mTORC1 signaling played a role in the circadian regulation of L-VGCCs, in part through regulation of ion channel trafficking and translocation, which brings to light a new functional role for mTORC1: the modulation of ion channel activities.