IGF-1 mediated Neurogenesis Involves a Novel RIT1 /Akt/Sox2 Cascade

Sajad Mir, Weikang Cai, Shaun W. Carlson, Kathryn E. Saatman, Douglas A. Andres

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) is known to have diverse effects on brain structure and function, including the promotion of stem cell proliferation and neurogenesis in the adult dentate gyrus. However, the intracellular pathways downstream of the IGF-1 receptor that contribute to these diverse physiological actions remain relatively uncharacterized. Here, we demonstrate that the Ras-related GTPase, RIT1, plays a critical role in IGF-1-dependent neurogenesis. Studies in hippocampal neuronal precursor cells (HNPCs) demonstrate that IGF-1 stimulates a RIT1-dependent increase in Sox2 levels, resulting in pro-neural gene expression and increased cellular proliferation. In this novel cascade, RIT1 stimulates Akt-dependent phosphorylation of Sox2 at T118, leading to its stabilization and transcriptional activation. When compared to wild-type HNPCs, RIT1 ' HNPCs show deficient IGF-1-dependent Akt signaling and neuronal differentiation, and accordingly, Sox2-dependent hippocampal neurogenesis is significantly blunted following IGF-1 infusion in knockout (RIT1 ') mice. Consistent with a role for RIT1 function in the modulation of activity-dependent plasticity, exercise-mediated potentiation of hippocampal neurogenesis is also diminished in RIT1 ' mice. Taken together, these data identify the previously uncharacterized IGF1-RIT1-Akt-Sox2 signaling pathway as a key component of neurogenic niche sensing, contributing to the regulation of neural stem cell homeostasis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3283
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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