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1.  Vorinostat and sorafenib increase ER stress, autophagy and apoptosis via ceramide-dependent CD95 and PERK activation 
Cancer biology & therapy  2008;7(10):1648-1662.
We recently noted that low doses of sorafenib and vorinostat interact in a synergistic fashion to kill carcinoma cells by activating CD95, and this drug combination is entering phase I trials. The present studies mechanistically extended our initial observations. Low doses of sorafenib and vorinostat, but not the individual agents, caused an acidic sphingomyelinase and fumonisin B1-dependent increase in CD95 surface levels and CD95 association with caspase 8. Knock down of CD95 or FADD expression reduced sorafenib/vorinostat lethality. Signaling by CD95 caused PERK activation that was responsible for both promoting caspase 8 association with CD95 and for increased eIF2α phosphorylation; suppression of eIF2α function abolished drug combination lethality. Cell killing was paralleled by PERK- and eIF2α-dependent lowering of c-FLIP-s protein levels and over-expression of c-FLIP-s maintained cell viability. In a CD95-, FADD- and PERK-dependent fashion, sorafenib and vorinostat increased expression of ATG5 that was responsible for enhanced autophagy. Expression of PDGFRβ and FLT3 were essential for high dose single agent sorafenib treatment to promote autophagy. Suppression of PERK function reduced sorafenib and vorinostat lethality whereas suppression of ATG5 levels elevated sorafenib and vorinostat lethality. Over-expression of c-FLIP-s blocked apoptosis and enhanced drug-induced autophagy. Thus sorafenib and vorinostat promote ceramide-dependent CD95 activation followed by induction of multiple downstream survival regulatory signals: ceramide-CD95-PERK-FADD-pro-caspase 8 (death); ceramide-CD95-PERK-eIF2α -↓c-FLIP-s (death); ceramide-CD95-PERK-ATG5-autophagy (survival).
PMCID: PMC2674577  PMID: 18787411
Vorinostat; Sorafenib; CD95; c-FLIP-s; PDGFRβ; FLT3; autophagy; ceramide; cell death; ASMase
2.  The Kinase Inhibitor Sorafenib Induces Cell Death through a Process Involving Induction of Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress▿ †  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2007;27(15):5499-5513.
Sorafenib is a multikinase inhibitor that induces apoptosis in human leukemia and other malignant cells. Recently, we demonstrated that sorafenib diminishes Mcl-1 protein expression by inhibiting translation through a MEK1/2-ERK1/2 signaling-independent mechanism and that this phenomenon plays a key functional role in sorafenib-mediated lethality. Here, we report that inducible expression of constitutively active MEK1 fails to protect cells from sorafenib-mediated lethality, indicating that sorafenib-induced cell death is unrelated to MEK1/2-ERK1/2 pathway inactivation. Notably, treatment with sorafenib induced endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in human leukemia cells (U937) manifested by immediate cytosolic-calcium mobilization, GADD153 and GADD34 protein induction, PKR-like ER kinase (PERK) and eukaryotic initiation factor 2α (eIF2α) phosphorylation, XBP1 splicing, and a general reduction in protein synthesis as assessed by [35S]methionine incorporation. These events were accompanied by pronounced generation of reactive oxygen species through a mechanism dependent upon cytosolic-calcium mobilization and a significant decline in GRP78/Bip protein levels. Interestingly, enforced expression of IRE1α markedly reduced sorafenib-mediated apoptosis, whereas knockdown of IRE1α or XBP1, disruption of PERK activity, or inhibition of eIF2α phosphorylation enhanced sorafenib-mediated lethality. Finally, downregulation of caspase-2 or caspase-4 by small interfering RNA significantly diminished apoptosis induced by sorafenib. Together, these findings demonstrate that ER stress represents a central component of a MEK1/2-ERK1/2-independent cell death program triggered by sorafenib.
PMCID: PMC1952105  PMID: 17548474
3.  Vorinostat and sorafenib synergistically kill tumor cells via FLIP suppression and CD95 activation 
Purpose and Design
Mechanism(s) by which the multi-kinase inhibitor sorafenib and the histone deacetylase inhibitor vorinostat interact to kill hepatic, renal and pancreatic adenocarcinoma cells have been defined.
Low doses of sorafenib and vorinostat interacted in vitro in a synergistic fashion to kill hepatic, renal and pancreatic adenocarcinoma cells in multiple short term viability (24–96h) and in long term colony formation assays. Cell killing was suppressed by inhibition of cathepsin proteases and caspase 8, and to a lesser extent by inhibition of caspase 9. Twenty four hours after exposure, the activities of ERK1/2, AKT and NFκB were only modestly modulated by sorafenib and vorinostat treatment. However, 24h after exposure, sorafenib and vorinostat- treated cells exhibited markedly diminished expression of c-FLIP-s, full length BID, BCL-2, BCLXL, MCL-1, XIAP, increased expression of BIM, and increased activation of BAX, BAK and BAD. Expression of eIF2α S51A blocked sorafenib and vorinostat –induced suppression of c-FLIP-s levels and over-expression of c-FLIP-s abolished lethality. Sorafenib and vorinostat treatment increased surface levels of CD95 and CD95 association with caspase 8. Knock down of CD95 or FADD expression significantly reduced sorafenib / vorinostat -mediated lethality.
These data demonstrate that combined exposure of epithelial tumor cell types to sorafenib and vorinostat diminishes expression of multiple anti-apoptotic proteins, promotes activation of the CD95 extrinsic apoptotic and the lysosomal protease pathways, and that suppression of c-FLIP-s expression represents a critical event in transduction of the pro-apoptotic signals from CD95 to promote mitochondrial dysfunction and death.
PMCID: PMC2561272  PMID: 18765530
Vorinostat; Sorafenib; CD95; c-FLIP-s; caspase 8; cathepsin; cell death
4.  Translational and posttranslational regulation of XIAP by eIF2α and ATF4 promotes ER stress–induced cell death during the unfolded protein response 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2014;25(9):1411-1420.
Chronic ER stress down-regulates XIAP by activating the PERK branch of the UPR. PERK attenuates Xiap translation via eIF2α phosphor­ylation. PERK promotes XIAP degradation via ATF4. CHOP induction and XIAP suppression act in parallel to sensitize cells to ER stress–induced apoptosis.
Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) protein misfolding activates the unfolded protein response (UPR) to help cells cope with ER stress. If ER homeostasis is not restored, UPR promotes cell death. The mechanisms of UPR-mediated cell death are poorly understood. The PKR-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK) arm of the UPR is implicated in ER stress–induced cell death, in part through up-regulation of proapoptotic CCAAT/enhancer binding protein homologous protein (CHOP). Chop−/− cells are partially resistant to ER stress–induced cell death, and CHOP overexpression alone does not induce cell death. These findings suggest that additional mechanisms regulate cell death downstream of PERK. Here we find dramatic suppression of antiapoptosis XIAP proteins in response to chronic ER stress. We find that PERK down-regulates XIAP synthesis through eIF2α and promotes XIAP degradation through ATF4. Of interest, PERK's down-regulation of XIAP occurs independently of CHOP activity. Loss of XIAP leads to increased cell death, whereas XIAP overexpression significantly enhances resistance to ER stress–induced cell death, even in the absence of CHOP. Our findings define a novel signaling circuit between PERK and XIAP that operates in parallel with PERK to CHOP induction to influence cell survival during ER stress. We propose a “two-hit” model of ER stress–induced cell death involving concomitant CHOP up-regulation and XIAP down-regulation both induced by PERK.
PMCID: PMC4004591  PMID: 24623724
5.  OSU-03012 Stimulates PKR-Like Endoplasmic Reticulum-Dependent Increases in 70-kDa Heat Shock Protein Expression, Attenuating Its Lethal Actions in Transformed Cells 
Molecular pharmacology  2008;73(4):1168-1184.
We have further defined mechanism(s) by which 2-amino-N-{4-[5-(2-phenanthrenyl)-3-(trifluoromethyl)-1H-pyrazol-1-yl]-phenyl}acetamide [OSU-03012 (OSU)], a derivative of the cyclooxygenase-2 (COX2) inhibitor celecoxib but lacking COX2 inhibitory activity, kills transformed cells. In cells lacking expression of protein kinase R-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK-/-), the lethality of OSU was attenuated. OSU enhanced the expression of Beclin 1 and ATG5 and cleavage of pro-caspase 4 in a PERK-dependent fashion and promoted the Beclin 1- and ATG5-dependent formation of vacuoles containing LC3, followed by a subsequent caspase 4-dependent cleavage of cathepsin B and a cathepsin B-dependent formation of low pH intracellular vesicles; cathepsin B was activated and released into the cytosol and genetic suppression of caspase 4, cathepsin B, or apoptosis-inducing factor function significantly suppressed cell killing. In parallel, OSU caused PERK-dependent increases in 70-kDa heat shock protein (HSP70) expression and decreases in 90-kDa heat shock protein (HSP90) and Grp78/BiP expression. Changes in HSP70 expression were post-transcriptional. Knockdown or small-molecule inhibition of HSP70 expression enhanced OSU toxicity, and overexpression of HSP70 suppressed OSU-induced low pH vesicle formation and lethality. Our data demonstrate that OSU-03012 causes cell killing that is dependent on PERK-induced activation of multiple toxic proteases. OSU-03012 also increased expression of HSP70 in a PERK-dependent fashion, providing support for the contention that OSU-03012-induced PERK signaling promotes both cell survival and cell death processes.
PMCID: PMC2674576  PMID: 18182481
6.  Sorafenib activates CD95 and promotes autophagy and cell death via Src family kinases in GI tumor cells 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2010;9(8):2220-2231.
Sorafenib and vorinostat interact in a synergistic fashion to kill carcinoma cells by activating CD95, and the present studies have determined individually how sorafenib and vorinostat contribute to CD95 activation. Sorafenib (3-6 μM) promoted a dose-dependent increase in Src Y416, ERBB1 Y845 and CD95 Y232/Y291 phosphorylation, and Src Y527 dephosphorylation. Low levels of sorafenib (3 μM) –induced CD95 tyrosine phosphorylation did not promote surface localization whereas sorafenib (6 μM), or sorafenib (3 μM) and vorinostat (500 nM) treatment promoted higher levels of CD95 phosphorylation that correlated with DISC formation, receptor surface localization and autophagy. CD95 (Y232F, Y291F) was not tyrosine phosphorylated and was unable to plasma membrane localize or induce autophagy. Knock down / knock out of Src family kinases abolished sorafenib –induced: CD95 tyrosine phosphorylation; DISC formation; and the induction of cell death and autophagy. Knock down of PDGFRβ enhanced Src Y416 and CD95 tyrosine phosphorylation that correlated with elevated CD95 plasma membrane levels and autophagy, and with a reduced ability of sorafenib to promote CD95 membrane localization. Vorinostat increased ROS levels; and in a delayed NFκB-dependent fashion, those of FAS ligand and CD95. Neutralization of FAS-L did not alter the initial rapid drug-induced activation of CD95 however, neutralization of FAS-L reduced sorafenib + vorinostat toxicity by ~50%. Thus sorafenib contributes to CD95 activation by promoting receptor tyrosine phosphorylation whereas vorinostat contributes to CD95 activation via initial facilitation of ROS generation and subsequently of FAS-L expression.
PMCID: PMC2933415  PMID: 20682655
Vorinostat; Sorafenib; CD95; c-FLIP-s; FAS-L; cell death; autophagy
7.  Involvement of p38 in signal switching from autophagy to apoptosis via the PERK/eIF2α/ATF4 axis in selenite-treated NB4 cells 
Jiang, Q | Li, F | Shi, K | Wu, P | An, J | Yang, Y | Xu, C
Cell Death & Disease  2014;5(5):e1270-.
Selenite has emerged as an optional chemotherapeutic agent for hematological malignancies. Autophagy and apoptosis are both engaged in selenite-induced cell death. In a previous report, we have identified heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90) as a critical modulator of the balance between autophagy and apoptosis in selenite-treated leukemia cells. However, the mechanisms by which selenite mediates the crosstalk between autophagy and apoptosis remain largely unknown. Herein, we demonstrate that the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress-related PERK/eIF2α/ATF4 pathway and p38 are core modules for the selenite-induced switch to apoptosis from autophagy. We found that selenite activated PERK and eIF2α/ATF4 downstream to promote apoptosis. During this progression, p38 was dissociated from PERK-inhibiting Hsp90 and became autophosphorylated. Then, activated p38 further enhanced the docking of activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4) onto the CHOP (CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein homologous protein) promoter via eIF2α to enhance apoptosis. We also found that activated p38 suppressed the phosphorylation of eIF4E that directed ATF4 to bind to the MAP1LC3B (microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3B) promoter. Because of the deactivation of eIF4E, the association of ATF4 with the MAP1LC3B promoter was inhibited, and autophagy was compromised. Intriguingly, p53 played important roles in mediating the p38-mediated regulation of eIF2α and eIF4E. When activated by p38, p53 induced the phosphorylation of eIF2α and the dephosphorylation of eIF4E, particularly in the nucleus where the ATF4 transcription factor was modulated, ultimately resulting in differential expression of CHOP and LC3. Moreover, selenite exhibited potent antitumor effects in vivo. In an NB4 cell xenograft model, selenite induced apoptosis and hampered autophagy. In addition, related signaling proteins demonstrated similar changes to those observed in vitro. These data suggest that selenite may be a candidate drug for leukemia therapy.
PMCID: PMC4047911  PMID: 24874742
p38; selenite; autophagy; apoptosis; p53
8.  Bufalin Induces the Interplay between Apoptosis and Autophagy in Glioma Cells through Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress 
Malignant gliomas are common primary tumors of the central nervous system. The prognosis of patients with malignant glioma is poor in spite of current intensive therapy and thus novel therapeutic modalities are necessary. Bufalin is the major component of Chan-Su (a traditional Chinese medicine) extracts from the venom of Bufo gargarizan. In this study, we evaluated the growth inhibitory effect of bufalin on glioma cells and explored the underlying molecular mechanisms. Our results showed that bufalin inhibited the growth of glioma cells significantly. Mechanistic studies demonstrated that bufalin induced apoptosis through mitochondrial apoptotic pathway. In addition, bufalin was also found to induce ER stress-mediated apoptosis, which was supported by the up- regulation of ER stress markers, CHOP and GRP78, and augmented phosphorylation of PERK and eIF2α as well as cleavage of caspase-4. Downregulation of CHOP using siCHOP RNA attenuated bufalin-induced apoptosis, further confirming the role of ER stress response in mediating bufalin-induced apoptosis. Evidence of bufalin-induced autophagy included formation of the acidic vesicular organelles, increase of autophagolysosomes and LC3-II accumulation. Further experiments showed that the mechanism of bufalin-induced autophagy associated with ATP deleption involved an increase in the active form of AMPK, decreased phosphorylation levels of mTOR and its downstream targets 4EBP1 and p70S6K1. Furthermore, TUDC and silencing of eIF2α or CHOP partially blocked bufalin-induced accumulation of LC3-II, which indicated that ER stress preceded bufalin-induced autophagy and PERK/eIF2α/CHOP signaling pathway played a major part in the process. Blockage of autophagy increased expression of ER stress associated proteins and the ratio of apoptosis, indicating that autophagy played a cytoprotective role in bufalin induced ER stress and cell death. In conclusion, bufalin inhibits glioma cell growth and induces interplay between apoptosis and autophagy through endoplasmic reticulum stress. It will provide molecular bases for developing bufalin into a drug candidate for the treatment of maglinant glioma.
PMCID: PMC3927133  PMID: 24550689
ER stress; autophagy; apoptosis; bufalin; glioma cancer.
9.  Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors Potentiate Vesicular Stomatitis Virus Oncolysis in Prostate Cancer Cells by Modulating NF-κB-Dependent Autophagy 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(5):2927-2940.
Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) is an oncolytic virus that induces cancer cell death through activation of the apoptotic pathway. Intrinsic resistance to oncolysis is found in some cell lines and many primary tumors as a consequence of residual innate immunity to VSV. In resistant-tumor models, VSV oncolytic potential can be reversibly stimulated by combination with epigenetic modulators, such as the histone deacetylase inhibitor vorinostat. Based on this reversible effect of vorinostat, we reasoned that critical host genes involved in oncolysis may likewise be reversibly regulated by vorinostat. A transcriptome analysis in prostate cancer PC3 cells identified a subset of NF-κB target genes reversibly regulated by vorinostat, as well as a group of interferon (IFN)-stimulated genes (ISGs). Consistent with the induction of NF-κB target genes, vorinostat-mediated enhancement of VSV oncolysis increased hyperacetylation of NF-κB RELA/p65. Additional bioinformatics analysis revealed that NF-κB signaling also increased the expression of several autophagy-related genes. Kinetically, autophagy preceded apoptosis, and apoptosis was observed only when cells were treated with both VSV and vorinostat. VSV replication and cell killing were suppressed when NF-κB signaling was inhibited using pharmacological or genetic approaches. Inhibition of autophagy by 3-methyladenine (3-MA) enhanced expression of ISGs, and either 3-MA treatment or genetic ablation of the autophagic marker Atg5 decreased VSV replication and oncolysis. Together, these data demonstrate that vorinostat stimulates NF-κB activity in a reversible manner via modulation of RELA/p65 signaling, leading to induction of autophagy, suppression of the IFN-mediated response, and subsequent enhancement of VSV replication and apoptosis.
PMCID: PMC3958113  PMID: 24371063
10.  Oxyphenisatin acetate (NSC 59687) triggers a cell starvation response leading to autophagy, mitochondrial dysfunction, and autocrine TNFα-mediated apoptosis 
Cancer Medicine  2013;2(5):687-700.
Oxyphenisatin (3,3-bis(4-hydroxyphenyl)-1H-indol-2-one) and several structurally related molecules have been shown to have in vitro and in vivo antiproliferative activity. This study aims to confirm and extend mechanistic studies by focusing on oxyphenisatin acetate (OXY, NSC 59687), the pro-drug of oxyphenisatin. Results confirm that OXY inhibits the growth of the breast cancer cell lines MCF7, T47D, HS578T, and MDA-MB-468. This effect is associated with selective inhibition of translation accompanied by rapid phosphorylation of the nutrient sensing eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2α (eIF2α) kinases, GCN2 and PERK. This effect was paralleled by activation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) combined with reduced phosphorylation of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) substrates p70S6K and 4E-BP1. Microarray analysis highlighted activation of pathways involved in apoptosis induction, autophagy, RNA/protein metabolism, starvation responses, and solute transport. Pathway inhibitor combination studies suggested a role for AMPK/mTOR signaling, de novo transcription and translation, reactive oxygen species (ROS)/glutathione metabolism, calcium homeostasis and plasma membrane Na+/K+/Ca2+ transport in activity. Further examination confirmed that OXY treatment was associated with autophagy, mitochondrial dysfunction, and ROS generation. Additionally, treatment was associated with activation of both intrinsic and extrinsic apoptotic pathways. In the estrogen receptor (ER) positive MCF7 and T47D cells, OXY induced TNFα expression and TNFR1 degradation, indicating autocrine receptor-mediated apoptosis in these lines. Lastly, in an MCF7 xenograft model, OXY delivered intraperitoneally inhibited tumor growth, accompanied by phosphorylation of eIF2α and degradation of TNFR1. These data suggest that OXY induces a multifaceted cell starvation response, which ultimately induces programmed cell death.
The mechanistic basis for oxyphenisatin acetate anti-cancer activity remains unresolved. This study demonstrates that exposure is associated with an acute nutrient deprivation response leading to translation inhibition, induction of autophagy, transient estrogen receptor (ER) stress and mitochondrial dysfunction. Ultimately these effects promote apoptosis induction, which in ER+ breast cancer cells is mediated by autocrine TNFα production. This is the first study implicating a nutrient deprivation response as central to the downstream effects of oxyphenisatin acetate.
PMCID: PMC3892800  PMID: 24403234
Autophagy; breast cancer; oxyphenisatin; protein synthesis; TNFα
11.  The unfolded protein response protects human tumor cells during hypoxia through regulation of the autophagy genes MAP1LC3B and ATG5  
Tumor hypoxia is a common microenvironmental factor that adversely influences tumor phenotype and treatment response. Cellular adaptation to hypoxia occurs through multiple mechanisms, including activation of the unfolded protein response (UPR). Recent reports have indicated that hypoxia activates a lysosomal degradation pathway known as autophagy, and here we show that the UPR enhances the capacity of hypoxic tumor cells to carry out autophagy, and that this promotes their survival. In several human cancer cell lines, hypoxia increased transcription of the essential autophagy genes microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3β (MAP1LC3B) and autophagy-related gene 5 (ATG5) through the transcription factors ATF4 and CHOP, respectively, which are regulated by PKR-like ER kinase (PERK, also known as EIF2AK3). MAP1LC3B and ATG5 are not required for initiation of autophagy but mediate phagophore expansion and autophagosome formation. We observed that transcriptional induction of MAP1LC3B replenished MAP1LC3B protein that was turned over during extensive hypoxia-induced autophagy. Correspondingly, cells deficient in PERK signaling failed to transcriptionally induce MAP1LC3B and became rapidly depleted of MAP1LC3B protein during hypoxia. Consistent with these data, autophagy and MAP1LC3B induction occurred preferentially in hypoxic regions of human tumor xenografts. Furthermore, pharmacological inhibition of autophagy sensitized human tumor cells to hypoxia, reduced the fraction of viable hypoxic tumor cells, and sensitized xenografted human tumors to irradiation. Our data therefore demonstrate that the UPR is an important mediator of the hypoxic tumor microenvironment and that it contributes to resistance to treatment through its ability to facilitate autophagy.
PMCID: PMC2798689  PMID: 20038797
12.  Targeting ER stress–induced autophagy overcomes BRAF inhibitor resistance in melanoma 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2014;124(3):1406-1417.
Melanomas that result from mutations in the gene encoding BRAF often become resistant to BRAF inhibition (BRAFi), with multiple mechanisms contributing to resistance. While therapy-induced autophagy promotes resistance to a number of therapies, especially those that target PI3K/mTOR signaling, its role as an adaptive resistance mechanism to BRAFi is not well characterized. Using tumor biopsies from BRAFV600E melanoma patients treated either with BRAFi or with combined BRAF and MEK inhibition, we found that BRAFi-resistant tumors had increased levels of autophagy compared with baseline. Patients with higher levels of therapy-induced autophagy had drastically lower response rates to BRAFi and a shorter duration of progression-free survival. In BRAFV600E melanoma cell lines, BRAFi or BRAF/MEK inhibition induced cytoprotective autophagy, and autophagy inhibition enhanced BRAFi-induced cell death. Shortly after BRAF inhibitor treatment in melanoma cell lines, mutant BRAF bound the ER stress gatekeeper GRP78, which rapidly expanded the ER. Disassociation of GRP78 from the PKR-like ER-kinase (PERK) promoted a PERK-dependent ER stress response that subsequently activated cytoprotective autophagy. Combined BRAF and autophagy inhibition promoted tumor regression in BRAFi-resistant xenografts. These data identify a molecular pathway for drug resistance connecting BRAFi, the ER stress response, and autophagy and provide a rationale for combination approaches targeting this resistance pathway.
PMCID: PMC3934165  PMID: 24569374
13.  A genetic screen for modifiers of Drosophila caspase Dcp-1 reveals caspase involvement in autophagy and novel caspase-related genes 
BMC Cell Biology  2010;11:9.
Caspases are cysteine proteases with essential functions in the apoptotic pathway; their proteolytic activity toward various substrates is associated with the morphological changes of cells. Recent reports have described non-apoptotic functions of caspases, including autophagy. In this report, we searched for novel modifiers of the phenotype of Dcp-1 gain-of-function (GF) animals by screening promoter element- inserted Drosophila melanogaster lines (EP lines).
We screened ~15,000 EP lines and identified 72 Dcp-1-interacting genes that were classified into 10 groups based on their functions and pathways: 4 apoptosis signaling genes, 10 autophagy genes, 5 insulin/IGF and TOR signaling pathway genes, 6 MAP kinase and JNK signaling pathway genes, 4 ecdysone signaling genes, 6 ubiquitination genes, 11 various developmental signaling genes, 12 transcription factors, 3 translation factors, and 11 other unclassified genes including 5 functionally undefined genes. Among them, insulin/IGF and TOR signaling pathway, MAP kinase and JNK signaling pathway, and ecdysone signaling are known to be involved in autophagy. Together with the identification of autophagy genes, the results of our screen suggest that autophagy counteracts Dcp-1-induced apoptosis. Consistent with this idea, we show that expression of eGFP-Atg5 rescued the eye phenotype caused by Dcp-1 GF. Paradoxically, we found that over-expression of full-length Dcp-1 induced autophagy, as Atg8b-GFP, an indicator of autophagy, was increased in the eye imaginal discs and in the S2 cell line. Taken together, these data suggest that autophagy suppresses Dcp-1-mediated apoptotic cell death, whereas Dcp-1 positively regulates autophagy, possibly through feedback regulation.
We identified a number of Dcp-1 modifiers that genetically interact with Dcp-1-induced cell death. Our results showing that Dcp-1 and autophagy-related genes influence each other will aid future investigations of the complicated relationships between apoptosis and autophagy.
PMCID: PMC2822743  PMID: 20100334
14.  Vorinostat and sorafenib increase CD95 activation in gastrointestinal tumor cells through a Ca2+ - de novo ceramide - PP2A - ROS dependent signaling pathway 
Cancer research  2010;70(15):6313-6324.
The targeted therapeutics sorafenib and vorinostat interact in a synergistic fashion to kill carcinoma cells by activating CD95, and this drug combination is entering phase I evaluation. In this study we determined how CD95 is activated by treatment with this drug combination. Low doses of sorafenib and vorinostat but not the individual drugs rapidly increased ROS, Ca2+ and ceramide levels in GI tumor cells. The production of ROS was reduced in Rho zero cells. Quenching ROS blocked drug-induced CD95 surface localization and apoptosis. ROS generation, CD95 activation and cell killing was also blocked by quenching of induced Ca2+ levels or by inhibition of PP2A. Inhibition of acidic sphingomyelinase or de novo ceramide generation blocked the induction of ROS however combined inhibition of both acidic sphingomyelinase and de novo ceramide generation was required to block the induction of Ca2+. Quenching of ROS did not impact on drug-induced ceramide/dihydro-ceramide levels whereas quenching of Ca2+ reduced the ceramide increase. Sorafenib and vorinostat treatment radiosensitized liver and pancreatic cancer cells, an effect that was suppressed by quenching ROS or knock down of LASS6. Further, sorafenib and vorinostat treatment suppressed the growth of pancreatic tumors in vivo. Our findings demonstrate that induction of cytosolic Ca2+ by sorafenib and vorinostat is a primary event that elevates dihydroceramide levels, each essential steps in ROS generation that promotes CD95 activation.
PMCID: PMC2918282  PMID: 20631069
15.  PERK–Dependent Regulation of Ceramide Synthase 6 and Thioredoxin Play a Key Role in mda-7/IL-24–Induced Killing of Primary Human Glioblastoma Multiforme Cells 
Cancer research  2010;70(3):1120-1129.
Melanoma differentiation associated gene-7(mda-7) encodes IL-24, a cytokine that can selectively trigger apoptosis in transformed cells. Recombinant mda-7 adenovirus (Ad.mda-7) effectively kills glioma cells, offering a novel gene therapy strategy to address deadly brain tumors. In this study, we defined the proximal mechanisms by which Ad-mda-7 kills glioma cells. Key factors implicated included activation of the endoplasmic reticulum stress kinase protein kinase R–like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK), Ca++ elevation, ceramide generation and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. PERK inhibition blocked ceramide or dihydroceramide generation, which were critical for Ca++ induction and subsequent ROS formation. Activation of autophagy and cell death relied upon ROS formation, the inhibition of which ablated Ad.mda-7–killing activity. In contrast, inhibiting TRX induced by Ad.MDA-7 enhanced tumor cytotoxicity and improved animal survival in an orthotopic tumor model. Our findings indicate that mda-7/IL-24 induces an endoplasmic reticulum stress response that triggers production of ceramide, Ca2+, and ROS, which in turn promote glioma cell autophagy and cell death.
PMCID: PMC2890071  PMID: 20103619
16.  OSU-03012 enhances Ad.mda-7-induced GBM cell killing via ER stress and autophagy and by decreasing expression of mitochondrial protective proteins 
Cancer biology & therapy  2010;9(7):526-536.
The present studies focused on determining whether the autophagy-inducing drug OSU-03012 (AR-12) could enhance the toxicity of recombinant adenoviral delivery of melanoma differentiation associated gene-7/interleukin-24 (mda-7/IL-24) in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) cells. The toxicity of a recombinant adenovirus to express MDA-7/IL-24 (Ad.mda-7) was enhanced by OSU-03012 in a diverse panel of primary human GBM cells. The enhanced toxicity correlated with reduced ERK1/2 phosphorylation and expression of MCL-1 and BCL-XL, and was blocked by molecular activation of ERK1/2 and by inhibition of the intrinsic, but not the extrinsic, apoptosis pathway. Both OSU-03012 and expression of MDA-7/IL-24 increased phosphorylation of PKR-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK) that correlated with increased levels of autophagy and expression of dominant negative PERK blocked autophagy induction and tumor cell death. Knockdown of ATG5 or Beclin1 suppressed OSU-03012 enhanced MDA-7/IL-24-induced autophagy and blocked the lethal interaction between the two agents. Ad.mda-7-infected GBM cells secreted MDA-7/IL-24 into the growth media and this conditioned media induced expression of MDA-7/IL-24 in uninfected GBM cells. OSU-03012 interacted with conditioned media to kill GBM cells and knockdown of MDA-7/IL-24 in these cells suppressed tumor cell killing. Collectively, our data demonstrate that the induction of autophagy and mitochondrial dysfunction by a combinatorial treatment approach represents a potentially viable strategy to kill primary human GBM cells.
PMCID: PMC2888700  PMID: 20107314
ROS; caspase; ER stress; CD95; cell death
17.  Regulation of Autophagy Via PERK-eIF2α Effectively Relieve the Radiation Myelitis Induced by Iodine-125 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e76819.
Radiation myelitis is the most serious complication in clinical radiotherapy for spinal metastases. We previously showed that 125I brachytherapy induced apoptosis of spinal cord neurons accompanied by autophagy. In this study, we further investigated the mechanism by which 125I radiation triggered autophagy in neural cells. We found that autophagy induced by 125I radiation was involved in endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and mainly dependent on PERK-eIF2α pathway. The expressions of LC3II, ATG12 and PI3K were significantly suppressed in PERK knockout neural cells. Meanwhile, the expressions of phosphorylated-Akt s473 and caspase3/8 all significantly increased in neural cells transfected with a PERK siRNA and which enhanced apoptosis of neurons after 125I radiation. The results were consistent with that by MTT and Annexin-FITC/PT staining. In annimal model of banna pigs with radiation myelitis caused by 125I brachytherapy, we have successfully decreased PERK expression by intrathecal administration of the lentivirus vector. The apoptosis rate was significantly higher than that in control group and which deteriorated radiation myelitis of banna pigs. Thus, autophagy caused by 125I radiation was mainly as an attempt of cell survival at an early stage, but it would be a self-destructive process and promoted the process of apoptosis and necrosis radiated by 125I for more than 72 hours. The study would be useful and helpful to maximize efficiency of radiation therapy in clinical therapy.
PMCID: PMC3818370  PMID: 24223705
18.  Direct induction of autophagy by Atg1 inhibits cell growth and induces apoptotic cell death 
Current biology : CB  2007;17(1):1-11.
To survive starvation and other forms of stress, eukaryotic cells undergo a lysosomal process of cytoplasmic degradation known as autophagy. Autophagy has been implicated in a number of cellular and developmental processes, including cell growth control and programmed cell death. However, direct evidence of a causal role for autophagy in these processes is lacking, due in part to the pleiotropic effects of signaling molecules such as TOR that regulate autophagy. Here, we circumvent this difficulty by directly manipulating autophagy rates in Drosophila through the autophagy-specific protein kinase Atg1.
We find that overexpression of Atg1 is sufficient to induce high levels of autophagy, the first such demonstration among wild type Atg proteins. In contrast to findings in yeast, induction of autophagy by Atg1 is dependent on its kinase activity. We find that cells with high levels of Atg1-induced autophagy are rapidly eliminated, demonstrating that autophagy is capable of inducing cell death. However, this cell death is caspase dependent and displays DNA fragmentation, suggesting that autophagy represents an alternative induction of apoptosis, rather than a distinct form of cell death. In addition, we demonstrate that Atg1-induced autophagy strongly inhibits cell growth, and that Atg1 mutant cells have a relative growth advantage under conditions of reduced TOR signaling. Finally, we show that Atg1 expression results in negative feedback on the activity of TOR itself.
Our results reveal a central role for Atg1 in mounting a coordinated autophagic response, and demonstrate that autophagy has the capacity to induce cell death. Furthermore, this work identifies autophagy as a critical mechanism by which inhibition of TOR signaling leads to reduced cell growth.
PMCID: PMC1865528  PMID: 17208179
autophagy; cell growth; programmed cell death; Target of Rapamycin (TOR); Drosophila
19.  Inflammasome Components Coordinate Autophagy and Pyroptosis as Macrophage Responses to Infection 
mBio  2013;4(1):e00620-12.
When microbes contaminate the macrophage cytoplasm, leukocytes undergo a proinflammatory death that is initiated by nucleotide-binding-domain-, leucine-rich-repeat-containing proteins (NLR proteins) that bind and activate caspase-1. We report that these inflammasome components also regulate autophagy, a vesicular pathway to eliminate cytosolic debris. In response to infection with flagellate Legionella pneumophila, C57BL/6J mouse macrophages equipped with caspase-1 and the NLR proteins NAIP5 and NLRC4 stimulated autophagosome turnover. A second trigger of inflammasome assembly, K+ efflux, also rapidly activated autophagy in macrophages that produced caspase-1. Autophagy protects infected macrophages from pyroptosis, since caspase-1-dependent cell death occurred more frequently when autophagy was dampened pharmacologically by either 3-methyladenine or an inhibitor of the Atg4 protease. Accordingly, in addition to coordinating pyroptosis, both (pro-) caspase-1 protein and NLR components of inflammasomes equip macrophages to recruit autophagy, a disposal pathway that raises the threshold of contaminants necessary to trigger proinflammatory leukocyte death.
IMPORTANCE An exciting development in the innate-immunity field is the recognition that macrophages enlist autophagy to protect their cytoplasm from infection. Nutrient deprivation has long been known to induce autophagy; how infection triggers this disposal pathway is an active area of research. Autophagy is encountered by many of the intracellular pathogens that are known to trigger pyroptosis, an inflammatory cell death initiated when nucleotide-binding-domain-, leucine-rich-repeat-containing proteins (NLR proteins) activate caspase-1 within inflammasome complexes. Therefore, we tested the hypothesis that NLR proteins and caspase-1 also coordinate autophagy as a barrier to cytosolic infection. By exploiting classical bacterial and mouse genetics and kinetic assays of autophagy, we demonstrate for the first time that, when confronted with cytosolic contamination, primary mouse macrophages rely not only on the NLR proteins NAIP5 and NLRC4 but also on (pro-)caspase-1 protein to mount a rapid autophagic response that wards off proinflammatory cell death.
An exciting development in the innate-immunity field is the recognition that macrophages enlist autophagy to protect their cytoplasm from infection. Nutrient deprivation has long been known to induce autophagy; how infection triggers this disposal pathway is an active area of research. Autophagy is encountered by many of the intracellular pathogens that are known to trigger pyroptosis, an inflammatory cell death initiated when nucleotide-binding-domain-, leucine-rich-repeat-containing proteins (NLR proteins) activate caspase-1 within inflammasome complexes. Therefore, we tested the hypothesis that NLR proteins and caspase-1 also coordinate autophagy as a barrier to cytosolic infection. By exploiting classical bacterial and mouse genetics and kinetic assays of autophagy, we demonstrate for the first time that, when confronted with cytosolic contamination, primary mouse macrophages rely not only on the NLR proteins NAIP5 and NLRC4 but also on (pro-)caspase-1 protein to mount a rapid autophagic response that wards off proinflammatory cell death.
PMCID: PMC3573666  PMID: 23404401
20.  Paneth cells as a site of origin for intestinal inflammation 
Nature  2013;503(7475):10.1038/nature12599.
Autophagy related 16-like 1 (ATG16L1) as a genetic risk factor has exposed the critical role of autophagy in Crohn’s disease (CD)1. Homozygosity for the highly prevalent ATG16L1 risk allele, or murine hypomorphic (HM) activity causes Paneth cell dysfunction2,3. As Atg16l1HM mice do not develop spontaneous intestinal inflammation, the mechanism(s) by which ATG16L1 contributes to disease remains obscure. Deletion of the unfolded protein response (UPR) transcription factor X-box binding protein-1 (Xbp1) in intestinal epithelial cells (IECs), whose human orthologue harbors rare inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) risk variants, results in endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, Paneth cell impairment and spontaneous enteritis4. Unresolved ER stress is a common feature of IBD epithelium4,5, and several genetic risk factors of CD affect Paneth cells2,4,6-9. Here we show that impairment in either UPR (Xbp1ΔIEC) or autophagy function (Atg16l1ΔIEC or Atg7ΔIEC) in IECs results in each other’s compensatory engagement, and severe spontaneous CD-like transmural ileitis if both mechanisms are compromised. Xbp1ΔIEC mice exhibit autophagosome formation in hypomorphic Paneth cells, which is linked to ER stress via protein kinase RNA-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK), elongation initiation factor 2α (eIF2α) and activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4). Ileitis is dependent on commensal microbiota and derives from increased IEC death, inositol requiring enzyme 1α (IRE1α)-regulated NFκB activation and tumor necrosis factor signaling which are synergistically increased when autophagy is deficient. ATG16L1 restrains IRE1α activity and augmentation of autophagy in IECs ameliorates ER stress-induced intestinal inflammation and eases NFκB overactivation and IEC death. ER stress, autophagy induction and spontaneous ileitis emerge from Paneth cell-specific deletion of Xbp1. Genetically and environmentally controlled UPR function within Paneth cells may therefore set the threshold for the development of intestinal inflammation upon hypomorphic ATG16L1 function and implicate ileal CD as a specific disorder of Paneth cells.
PMCID: PMC3862182  PMID: 24089213
21.  Differential Regulation of Caspase-1 Activation, Pyroptosis, and Autophagy via Ipaf and ASC in Shigella-Infected Macrophages 
PLoS Pathogens  2007;3(8):e111.
Shigella infection, the cause of bacillary dysentery, induces caspase-1 activation and cell death in macrophages, but the precise mechanisms of this activation remain poorly understood. We demonstrate here that caspase-1 activation and IL-1β processing induced by Shigella are mediated through Ipaf, a cytosolic pattern-recognition receptor of the nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain (NOD)-like receptor (NLR) family, and the adaptor protein apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a C-terminal caspase recruitment domain (ASC). We also show that Ipaf was critical for pyroptosis, a specialized form of caspase-1-dependent cell death induced in macrophages by bacterial infection, whereas ASC was dispensable. Unlike that observed in Salmonella and Legionella, caspase-1 activation induced by Shigella infection was independent of flagellin. Notably, infection of macrophages with Shigella induced autophagy, which was dramatically increased by the absence of caspase-1 or Ipaf, but not ASC. Autophagy induced by Shigella required an intact bacterial type III secretion system but not VirG protein, a bacterial factor required for autophagy in epithelial-infected cells. Treatment of macrophages with 3-methyladenine, an inhibitor of autophagy, enhanced pyroptosis induced by Shigella infection, suggesting that autophagy protects infected macrophages from pyroptosis. Thus, Ipaf plays a critical role in caspase-1 activation induced by Shigella independently of flagellin. Furthermore, the absence of Ipaf or caspase-1, but not ASC, regulates pyroptosis and the induction of autophagy in Shigella-infected macrophages, providing a novel function for NLR proteins in bacterial–host interactions.
Author Summary
Shigella are bacterial pathogens that are the cause of bacillary dysentery known as shigellosis. A crucial aspect of the propensity of Shigella to cause diseases lies in its ability to invade the cytoplasm of epithelial cells as well as macrophages. The bacterial invasion of macrophages induces pyroptosis, the proinflammatory cell death associated with caspase-1 activation. Activated caspase-1 then cleaves and activates prointerleukin (proIL)-1β and proIL-18, which are proinflammatory cytokines involved in host inflammatory responses. However, the precise mechanisms of caspase-1 activation induced by Shigella infection remain poorly understood. Ipaf, a cytosolic pattern-recognition receptor of the nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain (NOD)-like receptor (NLR) family, is a crucial host factor that activates caspase-1 through the sensing of flagellin produced by some bacteria, such as Salmonella or Legionella. We discovered that Ipaf and the adaptor protein ASC are required for caspase-1 activation induced by non-flagellated Shigella infection. Thus, Ipaf and ASC mediate caspase-1 activation by sensing an unknown bacterial factor, but not flagellin. Autophagy, a cellular system for eliminating intracellular pathogens, was dramatically enhanced in Shigella-infected macrophages by the absence of caspase-1 or Ipaf, but not ASC. The inhibition of autophagy promoted Shigella-induced cell death, suggesting that autophagy protects infected macrophages from pyroptosis. This study provides evidence that in Shigella-infected macrophages, autophagy is inhibited by Ipaf and caspase-1, but positively regulated by ASC, providing a novel function for NLR proteins in bacterial–host interactions.
PMCID: PMC1941748  PMID: 17696608
22.  Activation of Nox4 in the Endoplasmic Reticulum Promotes Cardiomyocyte Autophagy and Survival during Energy Stress through the PERK/eIF-2α/ATF4 pathway 
Circulation research  2013;113(11):1253-1264.
Autophagy is an essential survival mechanism during energy stress in the heart. Oxidative stress is activated by energy stress, but its role in mediating autophagy is poorly understood. Nox4 is an enzyme that generates reactive oxygen species (ROS) at intracellular membranes. Whether Nox4 acts as a sensor of energy stress to mediate activation of autophagy is unknown.
We investigated whether Nox4 is involved in the regulation of autophagy and cell survival during energy stress in cardiomyocytes (CMs).
Methods and Results
Production of ROS in CMs was increased during glucose deprivation (GD) in a Nox4-dependent manner. Protein levels and the ROS-producing activity of Nox4 were increased in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), but not in mitochondria, in response to GD. Selective knockdown of Nox4, but not Nox2, or selective reduction of ROS in the ER with ER-targeted catalase, but not mitochondria-targeted perioxiredoxin3, abrogated GD-induced autophagy. Nox4 promoted autophagy during GD through activation of the PKR-like ER kinase (PERK) pathway by suppression of prolyl hydroxylase4 (PHD4). The decrease in cell survival during GD in the presence of Nox4 knockdown was rescued by reactivation of autophagy by Atg7 overexpression, indicating that the effect of Nox4 upon cell survival is critically mediated through regulation of autophagy. Nox4 was activated during fasting and prolonged ischemia in the mouse heart, where Nox4 is also required for autophagy activation and cardioprotection.
Nox4 critically mediates autophagy in response to energy stress in CMs by eliciting ROS in the ER and stimulating the PERK signaling pathway.
PMCID: PMC3937770  PMID: 24081881
Nox4; autophagy; fasting; ROS; energy stress
23.  Autophagic flux determines cell death and survival in response to Apo2L/TRAIL (dulanermin) 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:70.
Macroautophagy is a catabolic process that can mediate cell death or survival. Apo2 ligand (Apo2L)/tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) treatment (TR) is known to induce autophagy. Here we investigated whether SQSTM1/p62 (p62) overexpression, as a marker of autophagic flux, was related to aggressiveness of human prostate cancer (PCa) and whether autophagy regulated the treatment response in sensitive but not resistant PCa cell lines.
Immunostaining and immunoblotting analyses of the autophagic markers p62 [in PCa tissue microarrays (TMAs) and PCa cell lines] and LC3 (in PCa cell lines), transmission electron microscopy, and GFP-mCherry-LC3 were used to study autophagy induction and flux. The effect of autophagy inhibition using pharmacologic (3-methyladenine and chloroquine) and genetic [(short hairpin (sh)-mediated knock-down of ATG7 and LAMP2) and small interfering (si)RNA-mediated BECN1 knock-down] approaches on TR-induced cell death was assessed by clonogenic survival, sub-G1 DNA content, and annexinV/PI staining by flow cytometry. Caspase-8 activation was determined by immunoblotting.
We found that increased cytoplasmic expression of p62 was associated with high-grade PCa, indicating that autophagy signaling might be important for survival in high-grade tumors. TR-resistant cells exhibited high autophagic flux, with more efficient clearance of p62-aggregates in four TR-resistant PCa cell lines: C4-2, LNCaP, DU145, and CWRv22.1. In contrast, autophagic flux was low in TR-sensitive PC3 cells, leading to accumulation of p62-aggregates. Pharmacologic (chloroquine or 3-methyladenine) and genetic (shATG7 or shLAMP2) inhibition of autophagy led to cell death in TR-resistant C4-2 cells. shATG7-expressing PC3 cells, were less sensitive to TR-induced cell death whereas those shLAMP2-expressing were as sensitive as shControl-expressing PC3 cells. Inhibition of autophagic flux using chloroquine prevented clearance of p62 aggregates, leading to caspase-8 activation and cell death in C4-2 cells. In PC3 cells, inhibition of autophagy induction prevented p62 accumulation and hence caspase-8 activation.
We show that p62 overexpression correlates with advanced stage human PCa. Pharmacologic and genetic inhibition of autophagy in PCa cell lines indicate that autophagic flux can determine the cellular response to TR by regulating caspase-8 activation. Thus, combining various autophagic inhibitors may have a differential impact on TR-induced cell death.
PMCID: PMC3998041  PMID: 24655592
Autophagy; p62/SQSTM1; Caspase-8; Prostate cancer; Apo2L/TRAIL; Dulanermin
24.  Sphingosine-1-phosphate phosphohydrolase-1 regulates ER stress-induced autophagy 
Cell Death and Differentiation  2010;18(2):350-361.
The sphingolipid metabolites ceramide and sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) have recently been implicated in autophagy. In this study, we report that depletion of sphingosine-1-phosphate phosphohydrolase-1 (SPP1), an endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-resident enzyme that specifically dephosphorylates S1P, induced autophagy. Although the mammalian target of rapamycin and class III phosphoinositide 3-kinase/Beclin-1 pathways were not involved and this autophagy was p53 independent, C/EBP homologous protein, BiP, and phospho-eucaryotic translation initiation factor-2α, and cleavage of procaspases 2 and 4, downstream targets of ER stress, were increased after SPP1 depletion. Autophagy was suppressed by depletion of protein kinase regulated by RNA-like ER kinase (PERK), inositol-requiring transmembrane kinase/endonuclease-1α, or activating transcription factor 6, three sensors of the unfolded protein response (UPR) to ER stress. Autophagy triggered by downregulation of SPP1 did not lead to apoptosis but rather stimulated, in a PERK dependent manner, the survival signal Akt, whose inhibition then sensitized cells to apoptosis. Although depletion of SPP1 increased intracellular levels of S1P and its secretion, activation of cell surface S1P receptors did not induce autophagy. Nevertheless, increases in intracellular pools of S1P, but not dihydro-S1P, induced autophagy and ER stress. Thus, SPP1, by regulating intracellular S1P homeostasis, can control the UPR and ER stress-induced autophagy.
PMCID: PMC3131882  PMID: 20798685
sphingosine-1-phosphate phosphatase-1; autophagy; ER stress; apoptosis; Akt
25.  Modulation of Apoptosis Pathways by Oxidative Stress and Autophagy in β Cells 
Experimental Diabetes Research  2012;2012:647914.
Human islets isolated for transplantation are exposed to multiple stresses including oxidative stress and hypoxia resulting in significant loss of functional β cell mass. In this study we examined the modulation of apoptosis pathway genes in islets exposed to hydrogen peroxide, peroxynitrite, hypoxia, and cytokines. We observed parallel induction of pro- and antiapoptotic pathways and identified several novel genes including BFAR, CARD8, BNIP3, and CIDE-A. As BNIP3 is an inducer of autophagy, we examined this pathway in MIN6 cells, a mouse beta cell line and in human islets. Culture of MIN6 cells under low serum conditions increased the levels of several proteins in autophagy pathway, including ATG4, Beclin 1, LAMP-2, and UVRAG. Amino acid deprivation led to induction of autophagy in human islets. Preconditioning of islets with inducers of autophagy protected them from hypoxia-induced apoptosis. However, induction of autophagy during hypoxia exacerbated apoptotic cell death. ER stress led to induction of autophagy and apoptosis in β cells. Overexpression of MnSOD, an enzyme that scavenges free radicals, resulted in protection of MIN6 cells from cytokine-induced apoptosis. Ceramide, a mediator of cytokine-induced injury, reduced the active phosphorylated form of Akt and downregulated the promoter activity of the antiapoptotic gene bcl-2. Furthermore, cytokine-stimulated JNK pathway downregulated the bcl-2 promoter activity which was reversed by preincubation with SP600125, a JNK inhibitor. Our findings suggest that β cell apoptosis by multiple stresses in islets isolated for transplantation is the result of orchestrated gene expression in apoptosis pathway.
PMCID: PMC3310197  PMID: 22474427

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