p62 has been proposed to mark ubiquitinated protein bodies for autophagic degradation. We report that the Drosophila melanogaster p62 orthologue, Ref(2)P, is a regulator of protein aggregation in the adult brain. We demonstrate that Ref(2)P localizes to age-induced protein aggregates as well as to aggregates caused by reduced autophagic or proteasomal activity. A similar localization to protein aggregates is also observed in D. melanogaster models of human neurodegenerative diseases. Although atg8a autophagy mutant flies show accumulation of ubiquitin- and Ref(2)P-positive protein aggregates, this is abrogated in atg8a/ref(2)P double mutants. Both the multimerization and ubiquitin binding domains of Ref(2)P are required for aggregate formation in vivo. Our findings reveal a major role for Ref(2)P in the formation of ubiquitin-positive protein aggregates both under physiological conditions and when normal protein turnover is inhibited.
The presence of ubiquitinated protein inclusions is a hallmark of most adult onset neurodegenerative disorders. Although the toxicity of these structures remains controversial, their prolonged presence in neurons is indicative of some failure in fundamental cellular processes. It therefore may be possible that driving the elimination of inclusions can help re-establish normal cellular function. There is growing evidence that macroautophagy has two roles; first, as a non-selective degradative response to cellular stress such as starvation, and the other as a highly selective quality control mechanism whose basal levels are important to maintain cellular health. One particular form of macroautophagy, aggrephagy, may have particular relevance in neurodegeneration, as it is responsible for the selective elimination of accumulated and aggregated ubiquitinated proteins. In this review, we will discuss the molecular mechanisms and role of protein aggregation in neurodegeneration, as well as the molecular mechanism of aggrephagy and how it may impact disease.
autophagy; protein aggregates; neurodegeneration; ubiquitination; p62; ALFY; aggresome; neurons
The accumulation of misfolded proteins in insoluble aggregates within the neuronal cytoplasm is one of the common pathological hallmarks of most adult-onset human neurodegenerative diseases. The clearance of these misfolded proteins may represent a promising therapeutic strategy in these diseases. The two main routes for intracellular protein degradation are the ubiquitin–proteasome and the autophagy–lysosome pathways. In this review, we will focus on the autophagic pathway, by providing some examples of how impairment at different steps in this degradation pathway is related to different neurodegenerative diseases. We will also consider that upregulating autophagy may be useful in the treatment of some of these diseases. Finally, we discuss how antioxidants, which have been considered to be beneficial in neurodegenerative diseases, can block autophagy, thus potentially compromising their therapeutic potential.
►Autophagy compromise occurs in different neurodegenerative diseases. ►Upregulating autophagy may be useful in the treatment of some neurodegenerative diseases. ►Many different reactive oxygen species scavengers impair autophagy
Autophagy; Neurodegeneration; Huntington's disease
The pathogenesis of age-related macular degeneration involves impaired protein degradation in retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells. The ubiquitin-proteasome pathway and the lysosomal pathway including autophagy are the major proteolytic systems in eukaryotic cells. Prior to proteolysis, heat shock proteins (HSPs) attempt to refold stress-induced misfolded proteins and thus prevent the accumulation of cytoplasmic protein aggregates. Recently, p62/sequestosome 1 (p62) has been shown to be a key player linking the proteasomal and lysosomal clearance systems. In the present study, the functional roles of p62 and HSP70 were evaluated in conjunction with proteasome inhibitor–induced autophagy in human RPE cells (ARPE-19).
The p62, HSP70, and ubiquitin protein levels and localization were analyzed by western blotting and immunofluorescense. Confocal and transmission electron microscopy were used to detect cellular organelles and to evaluate the morphological changes. The p62 and HSP70 levels were modulated using RNA interference and overexpression techniques. Cell viability was measured by colorimetric assay.
Proteasome inhibition evoked the accumulation of perinuclear aggregates that strongly colocalized with p62 and HSP70. The p62 perinuclear accumulation was time- and concentration-dependent after MG-132 proteasome inhibitor loading. The silencing of p62, rather than Hsp70, evoked suppression of autophagy, when related to decreased LC3-II levels after bafilomycin treatment. In addition, the p62 silencing decreased the ubiquitination level of the perinuclear aggregates. Recently, we showed that hsp70 mRNA depletion increased cell death in ARPE-19 cells. Here, we demonstrate that p62 mRNA silencing has similar effects on cellular viability.
Our findings open new avenues for understanding the mechanisms of proteolytic processes in retinal cells, and could be useful in the development of novel therapies targeting p62 and HSP70.
A common feature of many human neurodegenerative diseases is the accumulation of insoluble ubiquitin-containing protein aggregates in the CNS. Although Drosophila has been helpful in understanding several human neurodegenerative disorders, a loss-of-function mutation has not been identified that leads to insoluble CNS protein aggregates. The study of Drosophila mutations may identify unique components that are associated with human degenerative diseases. The Drosophila blue cheese (bchs) gene defines such a novel degenerative pathway. bchs mutants have a reduced adult life span with the age-dependent formation of protein aggregates throughout the neuropil of the CNS. These inclusions contain insoluble ubiquitinated proteins and amyloid precursor-like protein. Progressive loss of CNS size and morphology along with extensive neuronal apoptosis occurs in aged bchs mutants. BCHS protein is widely expressed in the cytoplasm of CNS neurons and is present over the entire length of axonal projections. BCHS is nearly 3500 amino acids in size, with the last 1000 amino acids consisting of three functional protein motifs implicated in vesicle transport and protein processing. This region along with previously unidentified proteins encoded in the human, mouse, and nematode genomes shows striking homology along the full length of the BCHS protein. The high degree of conservation between Drosophila and human bchs suggests that study of the functional pathway of BCHS and associated mutant phenotype may provide useful insights into human neurodegenerative disorders.
neurodegeneration; ubiquitin; APPL; protein aggregates; apoptosis; Drosophila
Parkin catalyzes mitochondrial ubiquitination, recruiting autophagic components that clear damaged mitochondria. Defects in this pathway are implicated in Parkinson's disease.
Mutations in parkin, a ubiquitin ligase, cause early-onset familial Parkinson's disease (AR-JP). How parkin suppresses Parkinsonism remains unknown. Parkin was recently shown to promote the clearance of impaired mitochondria by autophagy, termed mitophagy. Here, we show that parkin promotes mitophagy by catalyzing mitochondrial ubiquitination, which in turn recruits ubiquitin-binding autophagic components, HDAC6 and p62, leading to mitochondrial clearance. During the process, juxtanuclear mitochondrial aggregates resembling a protein aggregate-induced aggresome are formed. The formation of these “mito-aggresome” structures requires microtubule motor-dependent transport and is essential for efficient mitophagy. Importantly, we show that AR-JP–causing parkin mutations are defective in supporting mitophagy due to distinct defects at recognition, transportation, or ubiquitination of impaired mitochondria, thereby implicating mitophagy defects in the development of Parkinsonism. Our results show that impaired mitochondria and protein aggregates are processed by common ubiquitin-selective autophagy machinery connected to the aggresomal pathway, thus identifying a mechanistic basis for the prevalence of these toxic entities in Parkinson's disease.
The efficient management of misfolded protein aggregates is essential for cell viability and requires 3 interconnected pathways: the molecular chaperone machinery that assists protein folding, the proteasome pathway that degrades misfolded proteins, and the aggresomal pathway that sequesters and delivers toxic protein aggregates to autophagy for clearance. Although autophagy is generally considered as nonselective degradative machinery, growing evidence supports the existence of a selective autophagy that specifically targets protein aggregates for clearance. This “quality control autophagy” is established by specific ubiquitin E3 ligases, autophagic substrate ubiquitination, and specific ubiquitin-binding proteins p62 and HDAC6. In this context, quality control autophagy is similar to the proteasome system and utilizes ubiquitin tags for substrate recognition and processing. Here, I will discuss the recent progress toward understanding the molecular basis of this unique form of ubiquitin-dependent autophagy in protein aggregate clearance and its relevance to disease.
ubiquitin; autophagy; HDAC6; p62; actin
Aggregation and cleavage are two hallmarks of Tau pathology in Alzheimer disease (AD), and abnormal fragmentation of Tau is thought to contribute to the nucleation of Tau paired helical filaments. Clearance of the abnormally modified protein could occur by the ubiquitin–proteasome and autophagy–lysosomal pathways, the two major routes for protein degradation in cells. There is a debate on which of these pathways contributes to clearance of Tau protein and of the abnormal Tau aggregates formed in AD. Here, we demonstrate in an inducible neuronal cell model of tauopathy that the autophagy–lysosomal system contributes to both Tau fragmentation into pro-aggregating forms and to clearance of Tau aggregates. Inhibition of macroautophagy enhances Tau aggregation and cytotoxicity. The Tau repeat domain can be cleaved near the N terminus by a cytosolic protease to generate the fragment F1. Additional cleavage near the C terminus by the lysosomal protease cathepsin L is required to generate Tau fragments F2 and F3 that are highly amyloidogenic and capable of seeding the aggregation of Tau. We identify in this work that components of a selective form of autophagy, chaperone-mediated autophagy, are involved in the delivery of cytosolic Tau to lysosomes for this limited cleavage. However, F1 does not fully enter the lysosome but remains associated with the lysosomal membrane. Inefficient translocation of the Tau fragments across the lysosomal membrane seems to promote formation of Tau oligomers at the surface of these organelles which may act as precursors of aggregation and interfere with lysosomal functioning.
There is growing evidence that macroautophagic cargo is not limited to bulk cytosol in response to starvation, and can occur selectively for substrates including aggregated proteins. It remains unclear, however, if starvation-induced and selective macroautophagy share identical adapter molecules to capture their cargo. Here we report that Alfy, a phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate binding protein, is central to the selective elimination of aggregated proteins. We report that the loss of Alfy inhibits the clearance of inclusions, with little to no effect on the starvation response. Alfy is recruited to intracellular inclusions and scaffolds a complex between p62(SQSTM1)-positive proteins and the autophagic effectors Atg5, Atg12, Atg16L and LC3. Alfy overexpression leads to elimination of aggregates in an Atg5-dependent manner, and likewise, to protection in a neuronal and Drosophila model of polyglutamine toxicity. We propose that Alfy plays a key role in selective macroautophagy, by bridging cargo to the molecular machinery that builds autophagosomes.
The efficient management of misfolded protein aggregates is essential for cell viability and requires three interconnected pathways: the molecular chaperone machinery that assists protein folding, the proteasome pathway that degrades misfolded proteins, and the aggresomal pathway that sequesters and delivers toxic proteins aggregates to autophagy for clearance. Although autophagy is generally considered as non-selective degradative machinery, growing evidence supports the existence of a selective autophagy that specifically targets protein aggregates for clearance. This so-called “quality control autophagy” is established by specific ubiquitin E3 ligases, autophagic substrate ubiquitination, and specific ubiquitin binding proteins p62 and HDAC6. In this context, quality control autophagy is similar to the proteasome system and utilizes ubiquitin tags for substrate recognition and processing. Here I will discuss the recent progress towards understanding the molecular basis of this unique form of ubiquitin-dependent autophagy in protein aggregate clearance and its relevance to disease.
ubiquitin; autophagy; HDAC6; p62; actin
The endosomal sorting complexes required for transport (ESCRTs) are required to sort integral membrane proteins into intralumenal vesicles of the multivesicular body (MVB). Mutations in the ESCRT-III subunit CHMP2B were recently associated with frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), neurodegenerative diseases characterized by abnormal ubiquitin-positive protein deposits in affected neurons. We show here that autophagic degradation is inhibited in cells depleted of ESCRT subunits and in cells expressing CHMP2B mutants, leading to accumulation of protein aggregates containing ubiquitinated proteins, p62 and Alfy. Moreover, we find that functional MVBs are required for clearance of TDP-43 (identified as the major ubiquitinated protein in ALS and frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitin deposits), and of expanded polyglutamine aggregates associated with Huntington's disease. Together, our data indicate that efficient autophagic degradation requires functional MVBs and provide a possible explanation to the observed neurodegenerative phenotype seen in patients with CHMP2B mutations.
Protein aggregation is a continuous process in our cells. Some proteins aggregate in a regulated manner required for different vital functional processes in the cells whereas other protein aggregates result from misfolding caused by various stressors. The decision to form an aggregate is largely made by chaperones and chaperone-assisted proteins. Proteins that are damaged beyond repair are degraded either by the proteasome or by the lysosome via autophagy. The aggregates can be degraded by the proteasome and by chaperone-mediated autophagy only after dissolution into soluble single peptide species. Hence, protein aggregates as such are degraded by macroautophagy. The selective degradation of protein aggregates by macroautophagy is called aggrephagy. Here we review the processes of aggregate formation, recognition, transport, and sequestration into autophagosomes by autophagy receptors and the role of aggrephagy in different protein aggregation diseases.
Accumulation of autophagosomes because of impaired autophagy during valosin-containing protein (VCP)–linked dementia is explained by the absence or reduced activity of VCP.
Mutations in valosin-containing protein (VCP) cause inclusion body myopathy (IBM), Paget's disease of the bone, and frontotemporal dementia (IBMPFD). Patient muscle has degenerating fibers, rimmed vacuoles (RVs), and sarcoplasmic inclusions containing ubiquitin and TDP-43 (TARDNA-binding protein 43). In this study, we find that IBMPFD muscle also accumulates autophagosome-associated proteins, Map1-LC3 (LC3), and p62/sequestosome, which localize to RVs. To test whether VCP participates in autophagy, we silenced VCP or expressed adenosine triphosphatase–inactive VCP. Under basal conditions, loss of VCP activity results in autophagosome accumulation. After autophagic induction, these autophagosomes fail to mature into autolysosomes and degrade LC3. Similarly, IBMPFD mutant VCP expression in cells and animals leads to the accumulation of nondegradative autophagosomes that coalesce at RVs and fail to degrade aggregated proteins. Interestingly, TDP-43 accumulates in the cytosol upon autophagic inhibition, similar to that seen after IBMPFD mutant expression. These data implicate VCP in autophagy and suggest that impaired autophagy explains the pathology seen in IBMPFD muscle, including TDP-43 accumulation.
Glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) is the principle intermediate filament (IF) protein in astrocytes. Mutations in the GFAP gene lead to Alexander disease (AxD), a rare, fatal neurological disorder characterized by the presence of abnormal astrocytes that contain GFAP protein aggregates, termed Rosenthal fibers (RFs), and the loss of myelin. All GFAP mutations cause the same histopathological defect, i.e. RFs, though little is known how the mutations affect protein accumulation as well as astrocyte function. In this study, we found that GFAP accumulation induces macroautophagy, a key clearance mechanism for prevention of aggregated proteins. This autophagic response is negatively regulated by mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). The activation of p38 MAPK by GFAP accumulation is in part responsible for the down-regulation of phosphorylated-mTOR and the subsequent activation of autophagy. Our study suggests that AxD mutant GFAP accumulation stimulates autophagy, in a manner regulated by p38 MAPK and mTOR signaling pathways. Autophagy, in turn, serves as a mechanism to reduce GFAP levels.
Aggregated misfolded proteins are hallmarks of most neurodegenerative diseases. In a chronic disease state, including pathologic
situations of oxidative stress, these proteins are sequestered into inclusions. Accumulation of aggregated proteins can be
prevented by chaperones, or by targeting their degradation to the UPS. If the accumulation of these proteins exceeds their
degradation, they may impair the function of the proteasome. Alternatively, the function of the proteasome may be preserved
by directing aggregated proteins to the autophagy-lysosome pathway for degradation. Sequestosome 1/p62 has recently been
shown to interact with polyubiquitinated proteins through its UBA domain and may direct proteins to either the UPS or autophagosome.
P62 is present in neuronal inclusions of individuals with Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Herein, we review p62's role in signaling, aggregation, and inclusion formation, and specifically as a possible contributor
to Alzheimer's disease. The use of p62 as a potential target for the development of therapeutics and as a disease biomarker is also discussed.
Intracellular deposition of misfolded protein aggregates into ubiquitin-rich cytoplasmic inclusions is linked to the pathogenesis of many diseases. Why these aggregates form despite the existence of cellular machinery to recognize and degrade misfolded protein and how they are delivered to cytoplasmic inclusions are not known. We have investigated the intracellular fate of cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR), an inefficiently folded integral membrane protein which is degraded by the cytoplasmic ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. Overexpression or inhibition of proteasome activity in transfected human embryonic kidney or Chinese hamster ovary cells led to the accumulation of stable, high molecular weight, detergent-insoluble, multiubiquitinated forms of CFTR. Using immunofluorescence and transmission electron microscopy with immunogold labeling, we demonstrate that undegraded CFTR molecules accumulate at a distinct pericentriolar structure which we have termed the aggresome. Aggresome formation is accompanied by redistribution of the intermediate filament protein vimentin to form a cage surrounding a pericentriolar core of aggregated, ubiquitinated protein. Disruption of microtubules blocks the formation of aggresomes. Similarly, inhibition of proteasome function also prevented the degradation of unassembled presenilin-1 molecules leading to their aggregation and deposition in aggresomes. These data lead us to propose that aggresome formation is a general response of cells which occurs when the capacity of the proteasome is exceeded by the production of aggregation-prone misfolded proteins.
ubiquitin; proteasome; intermediate filaments; protein aggregation; presenilin
A number of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and polyglutamine diseases, are characterized by the age-dependent formation of intracellular protein aggregates and neurodegeneration. Although there is some debate surrounding the role of these aggregates in neurotoxicity, the formation of aggregates is known to reflect the accumulation of misfolded and toxic proteins. The degradation of misfolded proteins occurs mainly via the ubiquitin–proteasome and autophagy pathways. In neuronal cells, polyglutamine protein inclusions are present predominantly in the nucleus, which is not accessible to autophagy. It remains unclear how the ubiquitin–proteasomal and autophagy pathways remove misfolded proteins in the different subcellular regions of neurons, where disease proteins become misfolded and aggregated in an age-dependent manner. Here we discuss the key findings to date about the roles of the ubiquitin–proteasome system and autophagy in polyglutamine diseases. Understanding how these two pathways function to clear mutant polyglutamine proteins will further the development of effective treatments for polyglutamine and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Ubiquitin; Proteasome; Autophagy; Polyglutamine; Huntingtin; Neurodegeneration
The heart is capable of robust structural remodeling, sometimes improving performance and sometimes leading to failure. Recent studies have uncovered a critical role for autophagy in disease-related remodeling of the cardiomyocyte. We have shown previously that hemodynamic load elicits a maladaptive autophagic response in cardiomyocytes which contributes to disease progression. In a recent study, we went on to demonstrate that protein aggregation is a proximal event triggering autophagic clearance mechanisms. The ubiquitin-proteasome-dependent pathways of protein clearance are similarly activated in parallel with processing of stress-induced protein aggregates into aggresomes and clearance through autophagy. These findings in the setting of pressure overload contrast with protein aggregation occurring in a model of protein chaperone malfunction in myocytes, where activation of autophagy is beneficial, antagonizing disease progression. Our findings situate heart disease stemming from environmental stress in the category of proteinopathy and raise important new questions regarding molecular events that elicit adaptive and maladaptive autophagy.
cardiac hypertrophy; heart failure; cardiomyocyte; cardiac remodeling
The extensive autophagic-lysosomal pathology in Alzheimer disease (AD) brain has revealed a major defect in the proteolytic clearance of autophagy substrates. Autophagy failure contributes on several levels to AD pathogenesis and has become an important therapeutic target for AD and other neurodegenerative diseases. We recently observed broad therapeutic effects of stimulating autophagic-lysosomal proteolysis in the TgCRND8 mouse model of AD that exhibits defective proteolytic clearance of autophagic substrates, robust intralysosomal amyloid-β peptide (Aβ) accumulation, extracellular β-amyloid deposition and cognitive deficits. By genetically deleting the lysosomal cysteine protease inhibitor, cystatin B (CstB), to selectively restore depressed cathepsin activities, we substantially cleared Aβ, ubiquitinated proteins and other autophagic substrates from autolysosomes/lysosomes and rescued autophagic-lysosomal pathology, as well as reduced total Aβ40/42 levels and extracellular amyloid deposition, highlighting the underappreciated importance of the lysosomal system for Aβ clearance. Most importantly, lysosomal remediation prevented the marked learning and memory deficits in TgCRND8 mice. Our findings underscore the pathogenic significance of autophagic-lysosomal dysfunction in AD and demonstrate the value of reversing this dysfunction as an innovative therapeutic strategy for AD.
autophagy; lysosome; cathepsin; cystatin B; proteolysis; Alzheimer disease; transgenic
Recent reports demonstrate that multiple forms of cardiovascular stress, including pressure overload, chronic ischemia, and infarction-reperfusion injury, provoke an increase in autophagic activity in cardiomyocytes. However, nothing is known regarding molecular events that stimulate autophagic activity in stressed myocardium. Because autophagy is a highly conserved process through which damaged proteins and organelles can be degraded, we hypothesized that stress-induced protein aggregation is a proximal trigger of cardiomyocyte autophagy.
Methods and Results
Here, we report that pressure overload promotes accumulation of ubiquitinated protein aggregates in the left ventricle, development of aggresome-like structures, and a corresponding induction of autophagy. To test for causal links, we induced protein accumulation in cultured cardiomyocytes by inhibiting proteasome activity, finding that aggregation of polyubiquitinated proteins was sufficient to induce cardiomyocyte autophagy. Furthermore, attenuation of autophagic activity dramatically enhanced both aggresome size and abundance, consistent with a role for autophagic activity in protein aggregate clearance.
We conclude that protein aggregation is a proximal trigger of cardiomyocyte autophagy and that autophagic activity functions to attenuate aggregate/aggresome formation in heart. Findings reported here are the first to demonstrate that protein aggregation occurs in response to hemodynamic stress, situating pressure-overload heart disease in the category of proteinopathies.
autophagy; heart failure; hypertrophy; protein aggregation; remodeling
Inclusion body myopathy associated with Paget's disease of the bone and fronto-temporal dementia (IBMPFD) is a progressive autosomal dominant disorder caused by mutations in p97/VCP (valosin-containing protein). p97/VCP is a member of the AAA+ (ATPase associated with a variety of activities) protein family and participates in multiple cellular processes. One particularly important role for p97/VCP is facilitating intracellular protein degradation. p97/VCP has traditionally been thought to mediate the ubiquitin-proteasome degradation of proteins; however, recent studies challenge this dogma. p97/VCP clearly participates in the degradation of aggregate-prone proteins, a process principally mediated by autophagy. In addition, IBMPFD mutations in p97/VCP lead to accumulation of autophagic structures in patient and transgenic animal tissue. This is likely due to a defect in p97/VCP-mediated autophagosome maturation. The following review will discuss the evidence for p97/VCP in autophagy and how a disruption in this process contributes to IBMPFD pathogenesis.
Autophagy is an intracellular degradation process that is mediated by autophagosomes. Mammalian Atg2 proteins Atg2A and Atg2B are identified and characterized as essential for autophagy. They are also present on lipid droplets and are involved in regulation of lipid droplet volume and distribution.
Macroautophagy is an intracellular degradation system by which cytoplasmic materials are enclosed by the autophagosome and delivered to the lysosome. Autophagosome formation is considered to take place on the endoplasmic reticulum and involves functions of autophagy-related (Atg) proteins. Here, we report the identification and characterization of mammalian Atg2 homologues Atg2A and Atg2B. Simultaneous silencing of Atg2A and Atg2B causes a block in autophagic flux and accumulation of unclosed autophagic structures containing most Atg proteins. Atg2A localizes on the autophagic membrane, as well as on the surface of lipid droplets. The Atg2A region containing amino acids 1723–1829, which shows relatively high conservation among species, is required for localization to both the autophagic membrane and lipid droplet and is also essential for autophagy. Depletion of both Atg2A and Atg2B causes clustering of enlarged lipid droplets in an autophagy-independent manner. These data suggest that mammalian Atg2 proteins function both in autophagosome formation and regulation of lipid droplet morphology and dispersion.
The accumulation of insoluble proteins is a pathological hallmark of several neurodegenerative disorders. Tauopathies are caused by the dysfunction and aggregation of tau protein and an impairment of cellular protein degradation pathways may contribute to their pathogenesis. Thus, a deficiency in autophagy can cause neurodegeneration, while activation of autophagy is protective against some proteinopathies. Little is known about the role of autophagy in animal models of human tauopathy. In the present report, we assessed the effects of autophagy stimulation by trehalose in a transgenic mouse model of tauopathy, the human mutant P301S tau mouse, using biochemical and immunohistochemical analyses. Neuronal survival was evaluated by stereology. Autophagy was activated in the brain, where the number of neurons containing tau inclusions was significantly reduced, as was the amount of insoluble tau protein. This reduction in tau aggregates was associated with improved neuronal survival in the cerebral cortex and the brainstem. We also observed a decrease of p62 protein, suggesting that it may contribute to the removal of tau inclusions. Trehalose failed to activate autophagy in the spinal cord, where it had no impact on the level of sarkosyl-insoluble tau. Accordingly, trehalose had no effect on the motor impairment of human mutant P301S tau transgenic mice. Our findings provide direct evidence in favour of the degradation of tau aggregates by autophagy. Activation of autophagy may be worth investigating in the context of therapies for human tauopathies.
autophagy; neurodegenerative disorders; neuroprotection; protein aggregation; tau
Neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by selective neuronal vulnerability and neurodegeneration in specific brain regions. The pathogenesis of these disorders centrally involves abnormal accumulation and aggregation of specific proteins, which are deposited in intracellular inclusions or extracellular aggregates that are characteristic for each disease. Increasing evidence suggests that genetic mutations or environmental factors can instigate protein misfolding and aggregation in these diseases. Consequently, neurodegenerative diseases are often considered as conformational diseases. This idea is further supported by studies implicating that impairment of the protein quality control (PQC) and clearance systems, such as the ubiquitin-proteasome system and autophagosome-lysosome pathway, may lead to the abnormal accumulation of disease-specific proteins. This suggests that similar pathological mechanisms may underlie the pathogenesis of the different neurodegenerative disorders. Interestingly, several proteins that are known to associate with neurodegenerative diseases have been identified as important regulators of PQC and clearance systems. In this review, we summarize the central features of abnormal protein accumulation in different common neurodegenerative diseases and discuss some aspects of specific disease-associated proteins regulating the PQC and clearance mechanisms, such as ubiquilin-1.
Protein quality control; ubiquitin-proteasome system; autophagy; protein misfolding; neurodegenerative diseases; inclusion body; aggresome; IPOD; JUNQ; ubiquilin-1
The maturation of mouse macrophages and dendritic cells involves the transient deposition of ubiquitylated proteins in the form of dendritic cell aggresome-like induced structures (DALIS). Transient DALIS formation was used here as a paradigm to study how mammalian cells influence the formation and disassembly of protein aggregates through alterations of their proteostasis machinery. Co-chaperones that modulate the interplay of Hsc70 and Hsp70 with the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) and the autophagosome-lysosome pathway emerged as key regulators of this process. The chaperone-associated ubiquitin ligase CHIP and the ubiquitin-domain protein BAG-1 are essential for DALIS formation in mouse macrophages and bone-marrow derived dendritic cells (BMDCs). CHIP also cooperates with BAG-3 and the autophagic ubiquitin adaptor p62 in the clearance of DALIS through chaperone-assisted selective autophagy (CASA). On the other hand, the co-chaperone HspBP1 inhibits the activity of CHIP and thereby attenuates antigen sequestration. Through a modulation of DALIS formation CHIP, BAG-1 and HspBP1 alter MHC class I mediated antigen presentation in mouse BMDCs. Our data show that the Hsc/Hsp70 co-chaperone network controls transient protein aggregation during maturation of professional antigen presenting cells and in this way regulates the immune response. Similar mechanisms may modulate the formation of aggresomes and aggresome-like induced structures (ALIS) in other mammalian cell types.