FoxO Function Is Essential for Maintenance of Autophagic Flux and Neuronal Morphogenesis in Adult Neurogenesis

Iris Schäffner, Georgia Minakaki, M. Amir Khan, Elli Anna Balta, Ursula Schlötzer-Schrehardt, Tobias J. Schwarz, Ruth Beckervordersandforth, Beate Winner, Ashley E. Webb, Ronald A. DePinho, Jihye Paik, Wolfgang Wurst, Jochen Klucken, D. Chichung Lie*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

95 Citations (Scopus)


Autophagy is a conserved catabolic pathway with emerging functions in mammalian neurodevelopment and human neurodevelopmental diseases. The mechanisms controlling autophagy in neuronal development are not fully understood. Here, we found that conditional deletion of the Forkhead Box O transcription factors FoxO1, FoxO3, and FoxO4 strongly impaired autophagic flux in developing neurons of the adult mouse hippocampus. Moreover, FoxO deficiency led to altered dendritic morphology, increased spine density, and aberrant spine positioning in adult-generated neurons. Strikingly, pharmacological induction of autophagy was sufficient to correct abnormal dendrite and spine development of FoxO-deficient neurons. Collectively, these findings reveal a novel link between FoxO transcription factors, autophagic flux, and maturation of developing neurons. Schäffner et al. identify FoxO transcription factors as critical regulators of autophagic flux in adult hippocampal neurogenesis and show that FoxO-dependent autophagic flux is necessary for morphological maturation and synaptic integration of adult-born hippocampal neurons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1188-1203.e6
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 19 Sept 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • FoxO
  • adult neurogenesis
  • aging
  • autism
  • autophagy
  • hippocampus
  • spines
  • stem cells


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