USP9X, is highly expressed in neural progenitors and, essential for neural development in mice. In humans, mutations in USP9X are associated with neurodevelopmental disorders. To understand USP9X's role in neural progenitors, we studied the effects of altering its expression in both the human neural progenitor cell line, ReNcell VM, as well as neural stem and progenitor cells derived from Nestin-cre conditionally deleted Usp9x mice. Decreasing USP9X resulted in ReNcell VM cells arresting in G0 cell cycle phase, with a concomitant decrease in mTORC1 signalling, a major regulator of G0/G1 cell cycle progression. Decreased mTORC1 signalling was also observed in Usp9x-null neurospheres and embryonic mouse brains. Further analyses revealed, (i) the canonical mTORC1 protein, RAPTOR, physically associates with Usp9x in embryonic brains, (ii) RAPTOR protein level is directly proportional to USP9X, in both loss- A nd gain-of-function experiments in cultured cells and, (iii) USP9X deubiquitlyating activity opposes the proteasomal degradation of RAPTOR. EdU incorporation assays confirmed Usp9x maintains the proliferation of neural progenitors similar to Raptor-null and rapamycin-treated neurospheres. Interestingly, loss of Usp9x increased the number of sphere-forming cells consistent with enhanced neural stem cell self-renewal. To our knowledge, USP9X is the first deubiquitylating enzyme shown to stabilize RAPTOR.
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