Malignant cells often display defects in autophagy, an evolutionarily conserved pathway for degrading long-lived proteins and cytoplasmic organelles. However, as yet, there is no genetic evidence for a role of autophagy genes in tumor suppression. The beclin 1 autophagy gene is monoallelically deleted in 40–75% of cases of human sporadic breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer. Therefore, we used a targeted mutant mouse model to test the hypothesis that monoallelic deletion of beclin 1 promotes tumorigenesis. Here we show that heterozygous disruption of beclin 1 increases the frequency of spontaneous malignancies and accelerates the development of hepatitis B virus–induced premalignant lesions. Molecular analyses of tumors in beclin 1 heterozygous mice show that the remaining wild-type allele is neither mutated nor silenced. Furthermore, beclin 1 heterozygous disruption results in increased cellular proliferation and reduced autophagy in vivo. These findings demonstrate that beclin 1 is a haplo-insufficient tumor-suppressor gene and provide genetic evidence that autophagy is a novel mechanism of cell-growth control and tumor suppression. Thus, mutation of beclin 1 or other autophagy genes may contribute to the pathogenesis of human cancers.
Autophagy is the principal cellular pathway for degradation of long-lived proteins and organelles and regulates cell fate in response to stress. Recently, autophagy has been implicated in neurodegeneration, but whether it is detrimental or protective remains unclear. Here we report that beclin 1, a protein with a key role in autophagy, was decreased in affected brain regions of patients with Alzheimer disease (AD) early in the disease process. Heterozygous deletion of beclin 1 (Becn1) in mice decreased neuronal autophagy and resulted in neurodegeneration and disruption of lysosomes. In transgenic mice that express human amyloid precursor protein (APP), a model for AD, genetic reduction of Becn1 expression increased intraneuronal amyloid β (Aβ) accumulation, extracellular Aβ deposition, and neurodegeneration and caused microglial changes and profound neuronal ultrastructural abnormalities. Administration of a lentiviral vector expressing beclin 1 reduced both intracellular and extracellular amyloid pathology in APP transgenic mice. We conclude that beclin 1 deficiency disrupts neuronal autophagy, modulates APP metabolism, and promotes neurodegeneration in mice and that increasing beclin 1 levels may have therapeutic potential in AD.
The tumor suppressor activity of Beclin 1 (BECN1), a subunit of class III phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase complex, has been attributed to its regulation of apoptosis and autophagy. Here, we identify FYVE-CENT (ZFYVE26), a phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate binding protein important for cytokinesis, as a novel interacting protein of Beclin 1. A mutation in FYVE-CENT (R1945Q) associated with breast cancer abolished the interaction between FYVE-CENT and Beclin 1, and reduced the localization of these proteins at the intercellular bridge during cytokinesis. Breast cancer cells containing the FYVE-CENT R1945Q mutation displayed a significant increase in cytokinetic profiles and bi - multinuclear phenotype. Both Beclin 1 and FYVE-CENT were found to be downregulated in advanced breast cancers. These findings suggest a positive feedback loop for recruitment of FYVE-CENT and Beclin 1 to the intercellular bridge during cytokinesis, and reveal a novel potential tumor suppressor mechanism for Beclin 1.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) at physiological levels are important cell signaling molecules. However, aberrantly high ROS are intimately associated with disease and commonly observed in cancer. Mitochondria are primary sources of intracellular ROS, and their maintenance is essential to cellular health. Autophagy, an evolutionarily conserved process whereby cytoplasmic components are delivered to lysosomes for degradation, is responsible for mitochondrial turnover and removal of damaged mitochondria. Impaired autophagy is implicated in many pathological conditions, including neurological disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, aging, and cancer. The first reports connecting autophagy to cancer showed that allelic loss of the essential autophagy gene BECLIN1 (BECN1) is prevalent in human breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers and that Becn1+/- mice develop mammary gland hyperplasias, lymphomas, lung and liver tumors. Subsequent studies demonstrated that Atg5-/- and Atg7-/- livers give rise to adenomas, Atg4C-/- mice are susceptible to chemical carcinogenesis, and Bif1-/- mice are prone to spontaneous tumors, indicating that autophagy defects promote tumorigenesis. Due to defective mitophagy, autophagy-deficient cells accumulate damaged mitochondria and deregulated ROS levels, which likely contribute to their tumor-initiating capacity. However, the role of autophagy in tumorigenesis is complex, as more recent work also revealed tumor dependence on autophagy: autophagy-competent mutant-Ras-expressing cells form tumors more efficiently than their autophagy-deficient counterparts; similarly, FIP200 deficiency suppresses PyMT-driven mammary tumorigenesis. These latter findings are attributed to the fact that tumors driven by powerful oncogenes have high metabolic demands catered to by autophagy. In this review, we discuss the relationship between ROS and autophagy and summarize our current knowledge on their functional interactions in tumorigenesis.
autophagy; ROS; oxidative stress; cancer; p62; inflammation
Autophagy is an intracellular degradation pathway that functions in protein and organelle turnover in response to starvation and cellular stress. Autophagy is initiated by the formation of a complex containing Beclin 1 (BECN1) and its binding partner Phosphoinositide-3-kinase, class 3 (PIK3C3). Recently, BECN1 deficiency was shown to enhance the pathology of a mouse model of Alzheimer Disease (AD). However, the mechanism by which BECN1 or autophagy mediate these effects are unknown. Here, we report that the levels of Amyloid precursor protein (APP) and its metabolites can be reduced through autophagy activation, indicating that they are a substrate for autophagy. Furthermore, we find that knockdown of Becn1 in cell culture increases the levels of APP and its metabolites. Accumulation of APP and APP C-terminal fragments (APP-CTF) are accompanied by impaired autophagosomal clearance. Pharmacological inhibition of autophagosomal-lysosomal degradation causes a comparable accumulation of APP and APP-metabolites in autophagosomes. Becn1 reduction in cell culture leads to lower levels of its binding partner Pik3c3 and increased presence of Microtubule-associated protein 1, light chain 3 (LC3). Overexpression of Becn1, on the other hand, reduces cellular APP levels. In line with these observations, we detected less BECN1 and PIK3C3 but more LC3 protein in brains of AD patients. We conclude that BECN1 regulates APP processing and turnover. BECN1 is involved in autophagy initiation and autophagosome clearance. Accordingly, BECN1 deficiency disrupts cellular autophagy and autophagosomal-lysosomal degradation and alters APP metabolism. Together, our findings suggest that autophagy and the BECN1-PIK3C3 complex regulate APP processing and play an important role in AD pathology.
Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved lysosomal pathway for degrading cytoplasmic proteins, macromolecules, and organelles. While autophagy has become one of the most attractive topics in cancer research, the current autophagy literature is often viewed as confusing, because of its association with apparently contradictory roles, such as survival and cell death. Autophagy can serve as a tumor suppressor, as a partial reduction in autophagic capacity or defective autophagy (e.g., heterozygous knockdown BECN1 (+/−) in mice) provides an oncogenic stimulus, causing malignant transformation and spontaneous tumors. In addition, autophagy seems to function as a protective cell survival mechanism against environmental and cellular stress (e.g., nutrient deprivation, hypoxia and therapeutic stress) and causes resistance to antineoplastic therapies. Recent studies have demonstrated that the inhibition of autophagy in cancer cells may be therapeutically beneficial in some circumstances, as it can sensitize cancer cells to different therapies, including DNA-damaging agents, antihormone therapies (e.g., tamoxifen), and radiation therapy. This supports the hypothesis that inhibiting autophagy can negatively influence cancer cell survival and increase cell death when combined with anticancer agents, providing a therapeutic advantage against cancer. On the other hand, the induction of autophagy by the inhibition of anti-autophagic proteins, such as Bcl-2, PKCδ, and tissue transglutaminase 2 (TG2), may lead to autophagic cell death in some apoptosis-resistant cancers (i.e., breast and pancreatic cancers), indicating that the induction of autophagy alone may also be used as a potential therapy. Overall, the data suggest that, depending on the cellular features, either the induction or the inhibition of autophagy can provide therapeutic benefits to patients and that the design and synthesis of the first-generation modulators of autophagy may provide the tools for proof of concept experiments and the impetus for translational studies that may ultimately lead to new therapeutic strategies in cancer.
autophagy; programmed cell death; apoptosis; Bcl-2; Beclin 1; siRNA; small-molecule inhibitors; cancer
Recently, autophagy has emerged as a critical process in the control of T-cell homeostasis. Given the pivotal role of NF-κB in the signaling events of T cells, we have analyzed and unveiled a conserved NF-κB binding site in the promoter of the murine and human BECN1 autophagic gene (Atg6). Accordingly, we demonstrate that the NF-κB family member p65/RelA upregulates BECN1 mRNA and protein levels in different cellular systems. Moreover, p65-mediated upregulation of BECN1 is coupled to increased autophagy. The newly identified κB site in the BECN1 promoter specifically interacts with p65 both in vitro and in living Jurkat cells upon phorbol myristate acetate (PMA)-ionomycin stimulation, where p65 induction is coupled to BECN1 upregulation and autophagy induction. Finally, anti-CD3- and PMA-ionomycin-mediated activation of T-cell receptor signaling in peripheral T cells from lymph nodes of healthy mice results in an upregulation of BECN1 expression that can be blocked by the NF-κB inhibitor BAY 11-7082. Altogether, these data suggest that autophagy could represent a novel route modulated by p65 to regulate cell survival and control T-cell homeostasis.
Human breast, ovarian, and prostate tumors display allelic loss of the essential autophagy gene beclin1 with high frequency, and an increase in the incidence of tumor formation is observed in beclin1+/− mutant mice. These findings suggest a role for beclin1 and autophagy in tumor suppression; however, the mechanism by which this occurs has been unclear. Autophagy is a bulk degradation process whereby organelles and cytoplasm are engulfed and targeted to lysosomes for proteolysis,1,2 There is evidence that autophagy sustains cell survival during nutrient deprivation through catabolism, but also that autophagy is a means of achieving cell death when executed to completion. If or how either of these diametrically opposing functions proposed for autophagy may be related to tumor suppression is unknown. We found that metabolic stress is a potent trigger of apoptotic cell death, defects in which enable long-term survival that is dependent on autophagy both in vitro and in tumors in vivo.3 These findings raise the conundrum whereby inactivation of a survival pathway (autophagy) promotes tumorigenesis. Interestingly, when cells with defects in apoptosis are denied autophagy, this creates the inability to tolerate metabolic stress, reduces cellular fitness, and activates a necrotic pathway to cell death. This necrosis in tumors is associated with inflammation and enhancement of tumor growth, due to the survival of a small population of surviving, but injured, cells in a microenvironment that favors oncogenesis. Thus, by sustaining metabolism through autophagy during periods of metabolic stress, cells can limit energy depletion, cellular damage, and cell death by necrosis, which may explain how autophagy can prevent cancer, and how loss of a survival function can be tumorigenic.
autophagy; apoptosis; necrosis; Beclin1; cancer
In response to toxic stimuli, BCL2L11 (also known as BIM), a BH3-only protein, is released from its interaction with dynein light chain 1 (DYNLL1 also known as LC8) and can induce apoptosis by inactivating anti-apoptotic BCL2 proteins and by activating BAX-BAK1. Recently, we discovered that BCL2L11 interacts with BECN1 (Beclin 1), and that this interaction is facilitated by DYNLL1. BCL2L11 recruits BECN1 to microtubules by bridging BECN1 and DYNLL1, thereby inhibiting autophagy. In starvation conditions, BCL2L11 is phosphorylated by MAPK8/JNK and this phosphorylation abolishes the BCL2L11-DYNLL1 interaction, allowing dissociation of BCL2L11 and BECN1, thereby ameliorating autophagy inhibition. This finding demonstrates a novel function of BIM beyond its roles in apoptosis, highlighting the crosstalk between autophagy and apoptosis, and suggests that BCL2L11’s dual effects in inhibiting autophagy and promoting apoptosis may have important roles in disease pathogenesis.
BIM; autophagy; apoptosis; BH-3 domain; BECN1
Aberrant signaling through the class I phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)-Akt axis is frequent in human cancer. Here we show that Beclin 1, an essential autophagy and tumor suppressor protein, is a target of the protein kinase Akt. Expression of a Beclin 1 mutant resistant to Akt-mediated phosphorylation increased autophagy, reduced anchorage-independent growth, and inhibited Akt-driven tumorigenesis. Akt-mediated phosphorylation of Beclin 1 enhanced its interactions with 14-3-3 and vimentin intermediate filament proteins, and vimentin depletion increased autophagy and inhibited Akt-driven transformation. Thus, Akt-mediated phosphorylation of Beclin 1 functions in autophagy inhibition, oncogenesis, and the formation of an autophagy-inhibitory Beclin 1/14-3-3/vimentin intermediate filament complex. These findings have broad implications for understanding the role of Akt signaling and intermediate filament proteins in autophagy and cancer.
Crucial steps in tumor growth and metastasis are proliferation, survival and neovascularization. Previously, we have demonstrated that receptors for CXCL-8, CXCR1 and CXCR2, are expressed on endothelial cells and CXCR2 has been shown to be a putative receptor for angiogenic chemokines. In this report, we examined whether tumor angiogenesis and growth of CXCL-8-expressing human melanoma cells are regulated in vivo by a host-CXCR2-dependent mechanism. We generated mCXCR2−/−, mCXCR2+/− and wild type (WT) nude mice following crosses between BALB/c mice heterozygous nude+/− and heterozygous for mCXCR2+/−. We observed a significant inhibition of human melanoma tumor growth and experimental lung metastasis in mCXCR2−/− mice as compared to WT nude mice. Inhibition in tumor growth and metastasis was associated with a decrease in melanoma cell proliferation, survival, inflammatory response and angiogenesis. Together, these studies demonstrate the importance of host CXCR2-dependent CXCL-8-mediated angiogenesis in the regulation of melanoma growth and metastasis.
CXCR2; Melanoma; Metastasis
Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved process of cytoplasm and cellular organelle degradation in lysosomes. Autophagy is a survival pathway required for cellular viability during starvation; however, if it proceeds to completion, autophagy can lead to cell death. In neurons, constitutive autophagy limits accumulation of polyubiquitinated proteins and prevents neuronal degeneration. Therefore, autophagy has emerged as a homeostatic mechanism regulating the turnover of long-lived or damaged proteins and organelles, and buffering metabolic stress under conditions of nutrient deprivation by recycling intracellular constituents. Autophagy also plays a role in tumorigenesis, as the essential autophagy regulator beclin1 is monoallelically deleted in many human ovarian, breast, and prostate cancers, and beclin1+/− mice are tumor-prone. We found that allelic loss of beclin1 renders immortalized mouse mammary epithelial cells susceptible to metabolic stress and accelerates lumen formation in mammary acini. Autophagy defects also activate the DNA damage response in vitro and in mammary tumors in vivo, promote gene amplification, and synergize with defective apoptosis to accelerate mammary tumorigenesis. Thus, loss of the prosurvival role of autophagy likely contributes to breast cancer progression by promoting genome damage and instability. Exploring the yet unknown relationship between defective autophagy and other breast cancer-promoting functions may provide valuable insight into the pathogenesis of breast cancer and may have significant prognostic and therapeutic implications for breast cancer patients.
autophagy; breast cancer; beclin1; DNA damage; genomic instability
The anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 protein, which confers oncogenic transformation and drug resistance in most human cancers, including breast cancer, has recently been shown to effectively counteract autophagy by directly targeting Beclin1, an essential autophagy mediator and tumor suppressor. However, it remains unknown whether autophagy inhibition contributes to Bcl-2-mediated oncogenesis. Here, by using a loss-of-function mutagenesis study, we show that Bcl-2-mediated antagonism of autophagy plays a critical role in enhancing the tumorigenic properties of MCF7 breast cancer cells independent of its anti-apoptosis activity. A Bcl-2 mutant defective in apoptosis inhibition but competent for autophagy suppression promotes MCF7 breast cancer cell growth in vitro and in vivo as efficiently as wild-type Bcl-2. The growth-promoting activity of this Bcl-2 mutant is strongly correlated with its suppression of Beclin1-dependent autophagy, leading to sustained p62 expression and increased DNA damage in xenograft tumors, which may directly contribute to tumorigenesis. Thus, the anti-autophagic property of Bcl-2 is a key feature of Bcl-2-mediated oncogenesis and may in some contexts, serve as an attractive target for breast and other cancer therapies.
Bcl-2; autophagy; apoptosis; MCF7; Tumorigenesis
The anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 protein, which confers oncogenic transformation and drug resistance in most human cancers, including breast cancer, has recently been shown to effectively counteract autophagy by directly targeting Beclin1, an essential autophagy mediator and tumor suppressor. However, it remains unknown whether autophagy inhibition contributes to Bcl-2-mediated oncogenesis. Here, by using a loss-of-function mutagenesis study, we show that Bcl-2-mediated antagonism of autophagy has a critical role in enhancing the tumorigenic properties of MCF7 breast cancer cells independent of its anti-apoptosis activity. A Bcl-2 mutant defective in apoptosis inhibition but competent for autophagy suppression promotes MCF7 breast cancer cell growth in vitro and in vivo as efficiently as wild-type Bcl-2. The growth-promoting activity of this Bcl-2 mutant is strongly correlated with its suppression of Beclin1-dependent autophagy, leading to sustained p62 expression and increased DNA damage in xenograft tumors, which may directly contribute to tumorigenesis. Thus, the anti-autophagic property of Bcl-2 is a key feature of Bcl-2-mediated oncogenesis and may in some contexts, serve as an attractive target for breast and other cancer therapies.
Bcl-2; autophagy; apoptosis; MCF7; tumorigenesis
Aberrant angiogenesis in the eye is the most common cause of blindness. The current study examined the role of interleukin-10 (IL-10) in ischemia-induced pathological angiogenesis called neovascularization during postnatal development. IL-10 deficiency resulted in significantly reduced pathological retinal angiogenesis. In contrast to the choroicapillaris where IL-10 interferes with macrophage influx, IL-10 did not prevent anti-angiogenic macrophages from migrating to the retina in response to hypoxia. Instead, IL-10 promoted retinal angiogenesis by altering macrophage angiogenic function, as macrophages from wild-type mice demonstrated increased vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and nitric oxide (NO) compared to IL-10 deficient macrophages. IL-10 appears to directly affect macrophage responsiveness to hypoxia, as macrophages responded to hypoxia with increased levels of IL-10 and STAT3 phosphorylation as opposed to IL-10 deficient macrophages. Also, IL-10 deficient macrophages inhibited the proliferation of vascular endothelial cells in response to hypoxia while wild-type macrophages failed to do so. These findings suggest that hypoxia guides macrophage behavior to a pro-angiogenic phenotype via IL-10 activated pathways.
Autophagy is a highly regulated and evolutionarily conserved process of cellular self-digestion. Recent evidence suggests that this process plays an important role in regulating T cell homeostasis. In this study, we have utilized Rag1−/− blastocyst complementation and in vitro embryonic stem (ES) cell differentiation to address the role of Beclin 1, one of the key autophagic proteins, in lymphocyte development. Beclin 1-deficient Rag 1−/− chimeras displayed a dramatic reduction in thymic cellularity compared to control mice. Using ESC differentiation in vitro, we found that the inability to maintain normal thymic cellularity is likely caused by impaired maintenance of thymocyte progenitors. Interestingly, despite drastically reduced thymocyte numbers, the peripheral T cell compartment of Beclin 1-deficient Rag 1−/− chimeras is largely normal. Peripheral T cells displayed normal in vitro proliferation despite significantly reduced numbers of autophagosomes. In addition, these chimeras had greatly reduced numbers of early B cells in the bone marrow compared to controls. However, the peripheral B cell compartment was not dramatically impacted by Beclin 1 deficiency. Collectively, our results suggest that Beclin 1 is required for maintenance of undifferentiated/early lymphocyte progenitor populations. In contrast, Beclin 1 is largely dispensable for the initial generation and function of the peripheral T and B cell compartments. This indicates that normal lymphocyte development involves Beclin 1-dependent early-stage, and distinct, Beclin 1-independent, late stage processes.
Erythropoietin (Epo), a known hematopoietic growth factor, has been reported to promote tumor growth and angiogenesis in Epo receptor (EpoR)-positive tumors, but its effects on EpoR-negative tumors have not been clearly shown. Here, we show that Epo accelerates the growth of EpoR-negative tumors by promoting tumor angiogenesis. Mice were inoculated with Lewis lung carcinoma cells and treated with Epo. Erythropoietin accelerated tumor growth and increased intratumoral microvessel density, although it did not accelerate Lewis lung carcinoma cell tumor proliferation in vitro. To observe the direct effect of Epo on endothelial cells, we examined human dermal microvascular endothelial cells (HMVECs) that expressed EpoR. Erythropoietin induced the proliferation of HMVECs and protected them from H2O2-induced cell death. Erythropoietin activated the extracellular signal-regulated kinase signaling pathway and up-regulated the expression of the downstream antiapoptotic protein Bcl-xL in HMVECs. Moreover, in both the absence and presence of tumors, in vivo treatment of mice with Epo increased circulating endothelial progenitor cells. To investigate the role of Epo in a primary tumor model, we inoculated the chemical carcinogen methylcholanthrene (MCA) subcutaneously into mice at two doses, a high or a low dose, which induced fibrosarcoma, and treated them with Epo. Erythropoietin promoted tumor growth after MCA inoculation at both doses and decreased the overall survival of the mice inoculated with the high-dose MCA. However, Epo did not increase the incidence of fibrosarcoma at either dose. Lewis lung carcinoma cells and MCA-induced fibrosarcomas did not express EpoR. These results suggest that Epo accelerates the growth of tumors that lack EpoR expression by promoting tumor angiogenesis.
Studies have shown that some of statin's pleiotropic effects were achieved by either promotion or inhibition of angiogenesis, depending on the underlying disease. This study tested the hypothesis that the angiogenic potential of simvastatin is related to the microenvironmental conditions.
Human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) were studied after exposure to hypoxia or the inflammatory factors tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, with or without co-incubation with simvastatin (1μmol/L) and mevalonate. HUVEC angiogenesis was evaluated by tube formation, migration, and proliferation assays. Hypoxia inducible factor (HIF)-1α, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), Akt, endothelium nitric oxide synthase (e-NOS), and oxidative stress were evaluated.
HUVEC angiogenesis increased during hypoxia (tube length 14.7±0.5 vs. 7.8±0.6 mm, p<0.05) and further enhanced by simvastatin (19.3±1.1 mm, p<0.05 vs. hypoxia alone), which downregulated the expression of the HIF-1 inhibitor PHD2 and upregulated HIF-1α, VEGF, and Akt, without changing oxidative stress or eNOS. Incubation with TNF-α promoted HUVEC angiogenesis (7.4±0.2 vs. 6.5±0.2 mm, p<0.05) with increased oxidative stress. However, simvastatin inhibited this promotion (2.5±0.3 mm, p<0.001 vs. TNF-α alone) by decreasing oxidative stress, VEGF, Akt, and eNOS.
We conclude that at the same dosage, simvastatin can either promote or inhibit angiogenesis, possibly by activating upstream regulators of HIF-1α in hypoxia, but conversely interfering with angiogenic signaling downstream to inflammation. These opposing angiogenic effects should be considered in the therapeutic strategies with statins.
Simvastatin; hypoxia; angiogenesis; inflammation
Both preischemic hyperglycemia and suppression of SOD2 activity aggravate ischemic brain damage. This study was undertaken to assess the effect of SOD2 mutation on ischemic brain damage and its relation to the factors involved in autophagy regulation in hyperglycemic wild-type (WT) and heterozygous SOD2 knockout (SOD2−/+) mice subjected to 30-min transient focal ischemia. The brain samples were analyzed at 5 and 24 h after recirculation for ischemic lesion volume, superoxide production, and oxidative DNA damage and protein levels of Beclin 1, damage-regulated autophagy modulator (DRAM), and microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3 (LC3). The results revealed a significant increase in infarct volume in hyperglycemic SOD2−/+ mice, and this was accompanied with an early (5 h) significant rise in superoxide production and reduced SOD2 activity in SOD2−/+ mice as compared to WT mice. The superoxide production is associated with oxidative DNA damage as indicated by colocalization of the dihydroethidium (DHE) signal with 8-OHdG fluorescence in SOD2−/+ mice. In addition, while ischemia in WT hyperglycemics increased the levels of autophagy markers Beclin 1, DRAM, and LC3, ischemia in hyperglycemic, SOD2-deficient mice suppressed the levels of autophagy stimulators. These results suggest that SOD2 knockdown exacerbates ischemic brain damage under hyperglycemic conditions via increased oxidative stress and DNA oxidation. Such effect is associated with suppression of autophagy regulators.
Cerebral ischemia; SOD2; Hyperglycemia; Oxidative stress; Autophagy
Beclin 1/Atg6 is an essential component of the evolutionary conserved PtdIns(3)-kinase (Vps34) protein complex that regulates macroautophagy (autophagy) in eukaryotic cells and also interacts with antiapoptotic Bcl-2 family members, Bcl-2, and Bcl-xL. To elucidate the physiological function of Beclin 1, we generated transgenic mice producing a green fluorescent Beclin 1 protein (Beclin 1-GFP) under Beclin 1 endogenous regulation. The beclin 1-GFP transgene is functional because it completely rescues early embryonic lethality in beclin 1-deficient mice. The transgenic mice appear normal, with undetected change in basal autophagy levels in different tissues, despite the additional expression of functional Beclin 1-GFP. Staining of Beclin 1-GFP shows mostly diffuse cytoplasmic distribution in various tissues. Detailed analysis of the transgene expression by flow cytometry reveals a Bcl-2-like biphasic expression pattern in developing T and B cells, as well as differential regulation of expression in mature versus immature thymocytes following in vitro stimulation. Moreover, thymocytes expressing high Beclin 1-GFP levels appear increasingly sensitive to glucocorticoid-induced apoptosis in vitro. Our results, therefore, support a role for Beclin 1 in lymphocyte development involving cross talk between autophagy and apoptosis.
Beclin 1; autophagy; T cell; B cell; apoptosis
Reactive oxygen species, ROS, are regulators of endothelial cell migration, proliferation and survival, events critically involved in angiogenesis. Different isoforms of ROS-generating NOX enzymes are expressed in the vasculature and provide distinct signaling cues through differential localization and activation. We show that mice deficient in NOX1, but not NOX2 or NOX4, have impaired angiogenesis. NOX1 expression and activity is increased in primary mouse and human endothelial cells upon angiogenic stimulation. NOX1 silencing decreases endothelial cell migration and tube-like structure formation, through the inhibition of PPARα, a regulator of NF-κB. Administration of a novel NOX-specific inhibitor reduced angiogenesis and tumor growth in vivo in a PPARα dependent manner. In conclusion, vascular NOX1 is a critical mediator of angiogenesis and an attractive target for anti-angiogenic therapies.
Acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) results from a blockade of granulocyte differentiation at the promyelocytic stage. All-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) induces clinical remission in APL patients by enhancing the rapid differentiation of APL cells and the clearance of PML-RARα, APL's hallmark oncoprotein. In the present study, we demonstrated that both autophagy and Beclin 1, an autophagic protein, are upregulated during the course of ATRA-induced neutrophil/granulocyte differentiation of an APL-derived cell line named NB4 cells. This induction of autophagy is associated with downregulation of Bcl-2 and inhibition of mTOR activity. Small interfering RNA-mediated knockdown of BECN1 expression enhances apoptosis triggered by ATRA in NB4 cells but does not affect the differentiation process. These results provide evidence that the upregulation of Beclin 1 by ATRA constitutes an anti-apoptotic signal for maintaining the viability of mature APL cells, but has no crucial effect on the granulocytic differentiation. This finding may help to elucidate the mechanisms involved in ATRA resistance of APL patients, and in the ATRA syndrome caused by an accumulation of mature APL cells.
APL; Beclin 1; apoptosis; ATRA; autophagy; differentiation
The ubiquitin-proteasome system and macroautophagy (hereafter referred to autophagy) are two complementary pathways for protein degradation. Emerging evidence suggests that proteasome inhibition might be a promising approach for tumor therapy. Accumulating data suggest that autophagy is activated as a compensatory mechanism upon proteasome activity is impaired.
Autophagy activation was measured using acridine orange staining and LC3 transition. Cell viability and apoptosis were measured using MTT assay and flow cytometry, respectively. Beclin 1 expression vectors or shRNA against Beclin 1 (shBeclin 1) were transfected to investigate the role of Beclin 1 in autophagy activation and cytotoxicity of ovarian cancer cells induced by proteasome inhibitors.
Proteasome inhibitors suppressed proliferation and induced autophagy in ovarian cancer cells. Neither phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) inhibitors nor shRNA against Beclin 1 could abolish the formation of acidic vacuoles and the processing of LC3 induced by proteasome inhibitors. Moreover, Beclin 1 overexpression enhanced anti-proliferative effects of proteasome inhibitors in ovarian cancer cells.
For the first time, the current study demonstrated that proteasome inhibitors induced PI3K and Beclin 1-independent autophagy in ovarian cancer cells. In addition, this study revealed autophagy-independent tumor suppressive effects of Beclin 1 in ovarian cancer cells.
Proteasome inhibition; Beclin1; Ovarian cancer
Dasatinib, an inhibitor of Src/Abl family kinases, can inhibit tumor growth of a number of solid tumors. However, the effect and mechanism of action of dasatinib in human ovarian cancer cells remains unknown.
Dasatinib-induced autophagy was determined by acridine orange staining, punctate localization of GFP-LC3, LC3 protein blotting and electron microscopy. Significance of Beclin-1, AKT and Bcl-2 in dasatinib-induced autophagy and growth inhibition was assayed by small interfering RNA silencing and/or overexpression of gene of interest.
Dasatinib inhibited cell growth by inducing little apoptosis, but substantial autophagy in SKOv3 and HEY ovarian cancer cells. In vivo studies showed dasatinib inhibited tumor growth and induced both autophagy and apoptosis in a HEY xenograft model. Knockdown of Beclin 1 and Atg12 expression with their respective siRNAs diminished dasatinib-induced autophagy, whereas knockdown of p27Kip1 with specific siRNAs did not. shRNA knockdown of Beclin-1 expression reduced dasatinib-induced autophagy and growth inhibition. Dasatinib reduced the phosphorylation of AKT, mTOR, p70S6K and S6 kinase expression. Constitutive expression of AKT1 and AKT2 inhibited dasatinib-induced autophagy in both HEY and SKOv3 cells. Dasatinib also reduced Bcl-2 expression and activity. Overexpression of Bcl-2 partially prevented dasatinib-induced autophagy.
We conclude that dasatinib induces autophagic cell death in ovarian cancer that partially depends on Beclin-1, AKT and Bcl-2. These results may have implications for clinical use of dasatinib.
Dasatinib; autophagy; ovarian cancer; Beclin 1; AKT; Bcl-2
Beclin 1, a mammalian autophagy protein that is implicated in development, tumor suppression, neurodegeneration and cell death, exists in complex with Vps34, the class III phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI-3K) that mediates multiple vesicle trafficking pathways including endocytosis and autophagy. However, the precise role of the Beclin 1-Vps34 complex in autophagy regulation remains to be elucidated. Combining mouse genetics and biochemistry, we uncover a large in vivo Beclin 1 complex containing the known proteins Vps34, p150/Vps15 and UVRAG, as well as novel proteins Atg14L (yeast Atg14-like) and Rubicon (RUN domain and cysteine-rich domain containing, Beclin 1-interacting protein). Characterization of these novel proteins reveals that Atg14L enhances Vps34 lipid kinase activity and up-regulates autophagy, whereas Rubicon reduces Vps34 activity and down-regulates autophagy. We show that Beclin 1 and Atg14L synergistically promote formation of double-membraned organelles that are associated with Atg5 and Atg12, whereas forced expression of Rubicon results in aberrant late endosomal/lysosomal structures and impaired autophagosome maturation. We hypothesize that by forming distinct protein complexes, Beclin 1 and its binding proteins orchestrate the precise function of the class III PI-3K in regulating autophagy at multiple steps.