Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a common neurological disorder associated with iron deficiency and dopaminergic (DAergic) neuronal dysfunction. BTBD9 is a genetic risk factor for RLS. However, its molecular function remains largely unknown. Here, we report the interaction between BTBD9, manganese (Mn) and insulin/insulin-like growth factor (IGF) signaling in Caenorhabditis elegans, mouse Neuro2a cells and humans. We found that elevated Mn downregulated BTBD9 mRNA levels; in turn, BTBD9 expression attenuated Mn-induced cellular stress and dopaminergic neurodegeneration. As Mn is a known co-factor for insulin receptor and IGF-1 receptor, which activates IGF signaling, we posited that BTBD9 negatively regulates IGF signaling. Our results showed that the protective effects of BTBD9 against Mn toxicity were dependent on the forkhead box O (FOXO) protein. Furthermore, BTBD9 overexpression significantly elevated FOXO level and decreased PKB level, while phosphoinositide-dependent kinase-1 (PDK1) level remained unchanged. We conclude that BTBD9 acts as a key component in the IGF signaling pathway. Meanwhile, the roles of Mn in DAergic neurotoxicity and regulating BTBD9 shed new light on the etiology of RLS.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience