Within the human body, the brain exhibits the highest rate of energy consumption amongst all organs, with the majority of generated ATP being utilized to sustain neuronal activity. Therefore, the metabolism of the mature cerebral cortex is geared towards preserving metabolic homeostasis whilst generating significant amounts of energy. This requires a precise interplay between diverse metabolic pathways, spanning from a tissue-wide scale to the level of individual neurons. Disturbances to this delicate metabolic equilibrium, such as those resulting from maternal malnutrition or mutations affecting metabolic enzymes, often result in neuropathological variants of neurodevelopment. For instance, mutations in SLC7A5, a transporter of metabolically essential large neutral amino acids (LNAAs), have been associated with autism and microcephaly. However, despite recent progress in the field, the extent of metabolic restructuring that occurs within the developing brain and the corresponding alterations in nutrient demands during various critical periods remain largely unknown. To investigate this, we performed metabolomic profiling of the murine cerebral cortex to characterize the metabolic state of the forebrain at different developmental stages. We found that the developing cortex undergoes substantial metabolic reprogramming, with specific sets of metabolites displaying stage-specific changes. According to our observations, we determined a distinct temporal period in postnatal development during which the cortex displays heightened reliance on LNAAs. Hence, using a conditional knock-out mouse model, we deleted Slc7a5 in neural cells, allowing us to monitor the impact of a perturbed neuronal metabolic state across multiple developmental stages of corticogenesis. We found that manipulating the levels of essential LNAAs in cortical neurons in vivo affects one particular perinatal developmental period critical for cortical network refinement. Abnormally low intracellular LNAA levels result in cell-autonomous alterations in neuronal lipid metabolism, excitability, and survival during this particular time window. Although most of the effects of Slc7a5 deletion on neuronal physiology are transient, derailment of these processes during this brief but crucial window leads to long-term circuit dysfunction in mice. In conclusion, out data indicate that the cerebral cortex undergoes significant metabolic reorganization during development. This process involves the intricate integration of multiple metabolic pathways to ensure optimal neuronal function throughout different developmental stages. Our findings offer a paradigm for understanding how neurons synchronize the expression of nutrient-related genes with their activity to allow proper brain maturation. Further, our results demonstrate that disruptions in these precisely calibrated metabolic processes during critical periods of brain development may result in neuropathological outcomes in mice and in humans.
Knaus L. The metabolism of the developing brain: How large neutral amino acids modulate perinatal neuronal excitability and survival. 2023. doi:10.15479/at:ista:13107
Knaus, L. (2023). The metabolism of the developing brain: How large neutral amino acids modulate perinatal neuronal excitability and survival. Institute of Science and Technology Austria. https://doi.org/10.15479/at:ista:13107
Knaus, Lisa. “The Metabolism of the Developing Brain: How Large Neutral Amino Acids Modulate Perinatal Neuronal Excitability and Survival.” Institute of Science and Technology Austria, 2023. https://doi.org/10.15479/at:ista:13107.
L. Knaus, “The metabolism of the developing brain: How large neutral amino acids modulate perinatal neuronal excitability and survival,” Institute of Science and Technology Austria, 2023.
Knaus L. 2023. The metabolism of the developing brain: How large neutral amino acids modulate perinatal neuronal excitability and survival. Institute of Science and Technology Austria.
Knaus, Lisa. The Metabolism of the Developing Brain: How Large Neutral Amino Acids Modulate Perinatal Neuronal Excitability and Survival. Institute of Science and Technology Austria, 2023, doi:10.15479/at:ista:13107.
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