The Inhibitor of apoptosis (IAP) antagonists Reaper (Rpr), Grim and Hid are central regulators of developmental apoptosis in Drosophila. Ectopic expression of each is sufficient to trigger apoptosis, and hid and rpr have been shown to be important for programmed cell death (PCD). To investigate the role for grim in PCD, a grim null mutant was generated. grim was not a key proapoptotic gene for embryonic PCD, confirming that grim cooperates with rpr and hid in embryogenesis. In contrast, PCD of glial cells in the microchaete lineage required grim, identifying a death process dependent upon endogenous grim. Grim associates with mitochondria and has been shown to activate a mitochondrial death pathway distinct from IAP antagonization; therefore, the Drosophila bcl-2 genes buffy and debcl were investigated for genetic interaction with grim. Loss of buffy led to microchaete glial cell survival and suppressed death in the eye induced by ectopic Grim. This is the first example of a developmental PCD process influenced by buffy, and places buffy in a proapoptotic role. PCD of microchaete glial cells represents an exceptional opportunity to study the mitochondrial proapoptotic process induced by Grim.
Drosophila melanogaster; Microchaete bristle; Buffy; Apoptosis; Bcl-2
Autophagy, an evolutionarily conserved lysosome-mediated degradation, promotes cell survival under starvation and is controlled by insulin/target of rapamycin (TOR) signaling. In Drosophila, nutrient depletion induces autophagy in the fat body. Interestingly, nutrient availability and insulin/TOR signaling also influence the size and structure of Drosophila ovaries, however, the role of nutrient signaling and autophagy during this process remains to be elucidated. Here, we show that starvation induces autophagy in germline cells (GCs) and in follicle cells (FCs) in Drosophila ovaries. This process is mediated by the ATG machinery and involves the upregulation of Atg genes. We further demonstrate that insulin/TOR signaling controls autophagy in FCs and GCs. The analysis of chimeric females reveals that autophagy in FCs, but not in GCs, is required for egg development. Strikingly, when animals lack Atg gene function in both cell types, ovaries develop normally, suggesting that the incompatibility between autophagy-competent GCs and autophagy-deficient FCs leads to defective egg development. As egg morphogenesis depends on a tightly linked signaling between FCs and GCs, we propose a model in which autophagy is required for the communication between these two cell types. Our data establish an important function for autophagy during oogenesis and contributes to the understanding of the role of autophagy in animal development.
autophagy; Drosophila; oogenesis; starvation; insulin/TOR
The relationships between autophagy and cell death are complex and still not well understood. To advance our understanding of the molecular connections between autophagy and apoptosis, we performed an RNAi-based screen of Drosophila melanogaster apoptosis-related genes for their ability to enhance or suppress starvation-induced autophagy. We discovered that six apoptosis-related genes, Dcp-1, hid, Bruce, buffy, debcl and p53 as well as Ras/ Raf/MAPK signaling pathway components play a role in autophagy regulation in Drosophila cultured cells. Our study also provides the first in vivo evidence that the effector caspase Dcp-1 and IAP protein Bruce regulate both autophagy and starvation-induced cell death at two nutrient status checkpoints, germarium and mid-oogenesis, in the Drosophila ovary. Analysis of degenerating mid-stage egg chambers in DmAtg1 and DmAtg7 mutants reveal a reduction in TUNEL staining though DNA condensation appears unaffected. Based on these and previous findings, we propose here a putative molecular pathway that might regulate the sensitivity threshold of apoptotic and autophagic responses. We also discuss multiple interpretations of the Atg mutant egg chamber TUNEL phenotype that are consistent with a possible role for autophagy in either suppressing or enhancing the efficiency of cell degradation and/or promoting cell clearance associated with the death process.
PMID: 19242106 CAMSID: cams1682
autophagy; apoptosis; caspase; Dcp-1; Bruce
Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved process to catabolize cytoplasmic proteins and organelles1, 2. During starvation, the target of rapamycin (TOR), a nutrient-responsive kinase, is inhibited, thereby inducing autophagy. In autophagy, double-membrane autophagosomes envelop and sequester intracellular components and then fuse with lysosomes to form autolysosomes which degrade their contents to regenerate nutrients. Current models of autophagy terminate with the degradation of autophagosome cargo in autolysosomes3-5, but the regulation of autophagy in response to nutrients and the subsequent fate of the autolysosome are poorly defined. Here we show that mTOR signaling is inhibited during autophagy initiation, but reactivated with prolonged starvation. mTOR reactivation is autophagy-dependent, and requires the degradation of autolysosomal products. Increased mTOR activity attenuates autophagy and generates proto-lysosomal tubules and vesicles that extrude from autolysosomes and ultimately mature into functional lysosomes, thereby restoring the full complement of lysosomes in the cell – a process we identify in multiple animal species. Thus, an evolutionarily-conserved cycle in autophagy governs nutrient sensing and lysosome homeostasis during starvation.
A complex relationship exists between autophagy and apoptosis, but the regulatory mechanisms underlying their interactions are largely unknown. We conducted a systematic study of Drosophila melanogaster cell death–related genes to determine their requirement in the regulation of starvation-induced autophagy. We discovered that six cell death genes—death caspase-1 (Dcp-1), hid, Bruce, Buffy, debcl, and p53—as well as Ras–Raf–mitogen activated protein kinase signaling pathway components had a role in autophagy regulation in D. melanogaster cultured cells. During D. melanogaster oogenesis, we found that autophagy is induced at two nutrient status checkpoints: germarium and mid-oogenesis. At these two stages, the effector caspase Dcp-1 and the inhibitor of apoptosis protein Bruce function to regulate both autophagy and starvation-induced cell death. Mutations in Atg1 and Atg7 resulted in reduced DNA fragmentation in degenerating midstage egg chambers but did not appear to affect nuclear condensation, which indicates that autophagy contributes in part to cell death in the ovary. Our study provides new insights into the molecular mechanisms that coordinately regulate autophagic and apoptotic events in vivo.
The target of rapamycin (TOR) pathway is a major nutrient-sensing pathway that, when genetically downregulated, increases life span in evolutionarily diverse organisms including mammals. The central component of this pathway, TOR kinase, is the target of the inhibitory drug rapamycin, a highly specific and well-described drug approved for human use. We show here that feeding rapamycin to adult Drosophila produces the life span extension seen in some TOR mutants. Increase in life span by rapamycin was associated with increased resistance to both starvation and paraquat. Analysis of the underlying mechanisms revealed that rapamycin increased longevity specifically through the TORC1 branch of the TOR pathway, through alterations to both autophagy and translation. Rapamycin could increase life span of weak insulin/Igf signaling (IIS) pathway mutants and of flies with life span maximized by dietary restriction, indicating additional mechanisms.
► Rapamycin, a drug that inhibits TOR pathway, improves longevity in Drosophila ► Rapamycin longevity effects are mediated through the TOR pathway ► Life span extension by rapamycin is through translation changes and autophagy ► Rapamycin extends life span beyond dietary restriction and mild IIS mutations
Forkhead transcription factors of the FoxO subfamily regulate gene expression programs downstream of the insulin signaling network. It is less clear which proteins mediate transcriptional control exerted by Target of rapamycin (TOR) signaling, but recent studies in nematodes suggest a role for FoxA transcription factors downstream of TOR. In this study we present evidence that outlines a similar connection in Drosophila, in which the FoxA protein Fork head (FKH) regulates cellular and organismal size downstream of TOR. We find that ectopic expression and targeted knockdown of FKH in larval tissues elicits different size phenotypes depending on nutrient state and TOR signaling levels. FKH overexpression has a negative effect on growth under fed conditions, and this phenotype is not further exacerbated by inhibition of TOR via rapamycin feeding. Under conditions of starvation or low TOR signaling levels, knockdown of FKH attenuates the size reduction associated with these conditions. Subcellular localization of endogenous FKH protein is shifted from predominantly cytoplasmic on a high-protein diet to a pronounced nuclear accumulation in animals with reduced levels of TOR or fed with rapamycin. Two putative FKH target genes, CG6770 and cabut, are transcriptionally induced by rapamycin or FKH expression, and silenced by FKH knockdown. Induction of both target genes in heterozygous TOR mutant animals is suppressed by mutations in fkh. Furthermore, TOR signaling levels and FKH impact on transcription of the dFOXO target gene d4E-BP, implying a point of crosstalk with the insulin pathway. In summary, our observations show that an alteration of FKH levels has an effect on cellular and organismal size, and that FKH function is required for the growth inhibition and target gene induction caused by low TOR signaling levels.
Fission yeast has two TOR (target of rapamycin) kinases, namely Tor1 and Tor2. Tor1 is required for survival under stressed conditions, proper G1 arrest, and sexual development. In contrast, Tor2 is essential for growth. To analyze the functions of Tor2, we constructed two temperature-sensitive tor2 mutants. Interestingly, at the restrictive temperature, these mutants mimicked nitrogen starvation by arresting the cell cycle in G1 phase and initiating sexual development. Microarray analysis indicated that expression of nitrogen starvation-responsive genes was induced extensively when Tor2 function was suppressed, suggesting that Tor2 normally mediates a signal from the nitrogen source. As with mammalian and budding yeast TOR, we find that fission yeast TOR also forms multiprotein complexes analogous to TORC1 and TORC2. The raptor homologue, Mip1, likely forms a complex predominantly with Tor2, producing TORC1. The rictor/Avo3 homologue, Ste20, and the Avo1 homologue, Sin1, appear to form TORC2 mainly with Tor1 but may also bind Tor2. The Lst8 homologue, Wat1, binds to both Tor1 and Tor2. Our analysis shows, with respect to promotion of G1 arrest and sexual development, that the loss of Tor1 (TORC2) and the loss of Tor2 (TORC1) exhibit opposite effects. This highlights an intriguing functional relationship among TOR kinase complexes in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe.
Nutrient starvation induces autophagy in eukaryotic cells through inhibition of TOR (target of rapamycin), an evolutionarily-conserved protein kinase. TOR, as a central regulator of cell growth, plays a key role at the interface of the pathways that coordinately regulate the balance between cell growth and autophagy in response to nutritional status, growth factor and stress signals. Although TOR has been known as a key regulator of autophagy for more than a decade, the underlying regulatory mechanisms have not been clearly understood. This review discusses the recent advances in understanding of the mechanism by which TOR regulates autophagy with focus on mammalian TOR (mTOR) and its regulation of the autophagy machinery.
mTOR; Atg1; ULK1; ULK2; Atg13
Nutrient availability is a key determinant of eukaryotic cell growth. In unicellular organisms many signaling and transcriptional networks link nutrient availability to the expression of metabolic genes required for growth. However, less is known about the corresponding mechanisms that operate in metazoans. We used gene expression profiling to explore this issue in developing Drosophila larvae.
We found that starvation for dietary amino acids (AA's) leads to dynamic changes in transcript levels of many metabolic genes. The conserved insulin/PI3K and TOR signaling pathways mediate nutrition-dependent growth in Drosophila and other animals. We found that many AA starvation-responsive transcripts were also altered in TOR mutants. In contrast, although PI3K overexpression induced robust changes in the expression of many metabolic genes, these changes showed limited overlap with the AA starvation expression profile. We did however identify a strong overlap between genes regulated by the transcription factor, Myc, and AA starvation-responsive genes, particularly those involved in ribosome biogenesis, protein synthesis and mitochondrial function. The consensus Myc DNA binding site is enriched in promoters of these AA starvation genes, and we found that Myc overexpression could bypass dietary AA to induce expression of these genes. We also identified another sequence motif (Motif 1) enriched in the promoters of AA starvation-responsive genes. We showed that Motif 1 was both necessary and sufficient to mediate transcriptional responses to dietary AA in larvae.
Our data suggest that many of the transcriptional effects of amino acids are mediated via signaling through the TOR pathway in Drosophila larvae. We also find that these transcriptional effects are mediated through at least two mechanisms: via the transcription factor Myc, and via the Motif 1 cis-regulatory element. These studies begin to elucidate a nutrient-responsive signaling network that controls metabolic gene transcription in Drosophila.
Induction of autophagy in response to starvation is a highly conserved ability of eukaryotic cells, indicating a critical and ancient role of this process in adapting to nutrient conditions. The target of rapamycin (TOR) pathway is major conduit for such signals, and in most cell types TOR activity is necessary and sufficient to suppress autophagy under favorable growth conditions. Recent studies have begun to reveal how TOR activity is regulated in response to nutritional cues, and are shedding new light on the mechanisms by which TOR controls the autophagic machinery. In addition, a variety of signals, stressors and pharmacological agents that induce autophagy independent of nutrient conditions have been identified. In some cases these signals appear to have been spliced into the core TOR pathway, whereas others are able to bypass the control mechanisms regulated by TOR. Increasing evidence is pointing to an important role for both positive and negative feedback loops in controlling this pathway, leading to an emerging view that TOR signaling not only regulates autophagy but is also highly sensitive to cellular rates of autophagy and other TOR-dependent processes.
A fundamental function of autophagy conserved from yeast to mammals is mobilization of macromolecules during times of limited nutrient availability, permitting organisms to survive under starvation conditions. In yeast, autophagy is initiated following nitrogen or carbon deprivation, and autophagy mutants die rapidly under these conditions. Similarly, in mammals, autophagy is upregulated in most organs following initiation of starvation, and is critical for survival in the perinatal period following abrupt termination of the placental nutrient supply. The nutrient-sensing kinase, mammalian target of rapamycin, coordinates cellular proliferation and growth with nutrient availability, at least in part by regulating protein synthesis and autophagy-mediated degradation. This review focusses on the regulation of autophagy by Tor, a mammalian target of rapamycin, and Ulk1, a mammalian homolog of Atg1, in response to changes in nutrient availability. Given the importance of mitochondria in maintaining bioenergetic homestasis, and potentially as a source of membrane for autophagosomes during starvation, possible roles for mitochondria in this process are also discussed. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 14, 1953–1958.
The Tor kinases are the targets of the immunosuppressive drug rapamycin and couple nutrient availability to cell growth. In the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the PP2A-related phosphatase Sit4 together with its regulatory subunit Tap42 mediates several Tor signaling events. Sit4 interacts with other potential regulatory proteins known as the Saps. Deletion of the SAP or SIT4 genes confers increased sensitivity to rapamycin and defects in expression of subsets of Tor-regulated genes. Sap155, Sap185, or Sap190 can restore these responses. Strains lacking Sap185 and Sap190 are hypersensitive to rapamycin, and this sensitivity is Gcn2 dependent and correlated with a defect in translation, constitutive eukaryotic initiation factor 2α hyperphosphorylation, induction of GCN4 translation, and hypersensitivity to amino acid starvation. We conclude that Tor signals via Sap-Sit4 complexes to control both transcriptional and translational programs that couple cell growth to amino acid availability.
Starvation induces autophagy to preserve cellular homeostasis in virtually all eukaryotic organisms. However, the mechanisms by which starvation induces autophagy are not completely understood. In mammalian cells, the anti-apoptotic protein, Bcl-2, binds to Beclin 1 during non-starvation conditions, and inhibits its autophagy function. Here we show that starvation induces phosphorylation of cellular Bcl-2 at residues T69, S70, and S87 of the non-structured loop, Bcl-2 dissociation from Beclin 1, and autophagy activation. In contrast, viral Bcl-2, which lacks the phosphorylation site-containing non-structured loop, fails to dissociate from Beclin 1 during starvation. Furthermore, the stress-activated signaling molecule, c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase 1 (JNK1), but not JNK2, mediates starvation-induced Bcl-2 phosphorylation, Bcl-2 dissociation from Beclin 1, and autophagy activation. Together, our findings demonstrate that JNK1-mediated multi-site phosphorylation of Bcl-2 stimulates starvation-induced autophagy by disrupting the Bcl-2/Beclin 1 complex. These findings define a mechanism that cells use to regulate autophagic activity in response to nutrient status.
Autophagy delivers cytoplasmic material for lysosomal degradation in eukaryotic cells. Starvation induces high levels of autophagy to promote survival in the lack of nutrients. We compared genome-wide transcriptional profiles of fed and starved control, autophagy-deficient Atg7 and Atg1 null mutant Drosophila larvae to search for novel regulators of autophagy. Genes involved in catabolic processes including autophagy were transcriptionally upregulated in all cases. We also detected repression of genes involved in DNA replication in autophagy mutants compared with control animals. The expression of Rack1 (receptor of activated protein kinase C 1) increased 4.1- to 5.5-fold during nutrient deprivation in all three genotypes. The scaffold protein Rack1 plays a role in a wide range of processes including translation, cell adhesion and migration, cell survival and cancer. Loss of Rack1 led to attenuated autophagic response to starvation, and glycogen stores were decreased 11.8-fold in Rack1 mutant cells. Endogenous Rack1 partially colocalized with GFP-Atg8a and early autophagic structures on the ultrastructural level, suggesting its involvement in autophagosome formation. Endogenous Rack1 also showed a high degree of colocalization with glycogen particles in the larval fat body, and with Shaggy, the Drosophila homolog of glycogen synthase kinase 3B (GSK-3B). Our results, for the first time, demonstrated the fundamental role of Rack1 in autophagy and glycogen synthesis.
antimicrobial peptides; Atg8; autophagy; Drosophila; fat body; glycogen; GSK-3B; microarray; Rack1; starvation
Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signalling and macroautophagy (henceforth autophagy) regulate numerous pathological and physiological processes including cellular responses to altered nutrient levels. However, the mechanisms regulating mTOR and autophagy remain incompletely understood. Lysosomes are dynamic intracellular organelles 1, 2 intimately involved both in the activation of mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) signalling and in degrading autophagic substrates 3-8. Here we report that lysosomal positioning coordinates anabolic and catabolic responses to changes in nutrient availability by orchestrating early plasma membrane signalling events, mTORC1 signalling and autophagy. Activation of mTORC1 by nutrients correlates with its presence on peripheral lysosomes that are physically close to the upstream signalling modules, while starvation causes perinuclear clustering of lysosomes, driven by changes in intracellular pH (pHi). Lysosomal positioning regulates mTORC1 signalling, which, in turn, influences autophagosome formation. Lysosome positioning also influences autophagosome-lysosome fusion rates, and thus controls autophagic flux by acting both at the initiation and termination stages of the process. Our findings provide a fundamental physiological role for the dynamic state of lysosomal positioning in cells as a coordinator of mTORC1 signalling with autophagic flux.
Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) is known to exert cardioprotective actions. However, it remains unknown if autophagy, a major adaptive response to nutritional stress, contributes to IGF-1-mediated cardioprotection.
Methods and results
We subjected cultured neonatal rat cardiomyocytes, as well as live mice, to nutritional stress and assessed cell death and autophagic rates. Nutritional stress induced by serum/glucose deprivation strongly induced autophagy and cell death, and both responses were inhibited by IGF-1. The Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway mediated the effects of IGF-1 upon autophagy. Importantly, starvation also decreased intracellular ATP levels and oxygen consumption leading to AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) activation; IGF-1 increased mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake and mitochondrial respiration in nutrient-starved cells. IGF-1 also rescued ATP levels, reduced AMPK phosphorylation and increased p70S6K phosphorylation, which indicates that in addition to Akt/mTOR, IGF-1 inhibits autophagy by the AMPK/mTOR axis. In mice harbouring a liver-specific igf1 deletion, which dramatically reduces IGF-1 plasma levels, AMPK activity and autophagy were increased, and significant heart weight loss was observed in comparison with wild-type starved animals, revealing the importance of IGF-1 in maintaining cardiac adaptability to nutritional insults in vivo.
Our data support the cardioprotective actions of IGF-1, which, by rescuing the mitochondrial metabolism and the energetic state of cells, reduces cell death and controls the potentially harmful autophagic response to nutritional challenges. IGF-1, therefore, may prove beneficial to mitigate damage induced by excessive nutrient-related stress, including ischaemic disease in multiple tissues.
IGF-1; Macroautophagy; Heart; ATP; Akt; mTOR
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) induces autophagosome formation in infected human hepatocytes. We have previously reported that HCV exploits autophagic machinery in favor of virus growth and survival in host cells (S. Shrivastava et al., Hepatology 53:406–414, 2011); however, the mechanisms for autophagy induction is poorly understood. In the present study, we observed that HCV infection transcriptionally upregulates Beclin1, which forms complex with Vps34, the class III phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, as a first step for autophagy initiation. Although Bcl-2 has an anti-autophagy effect by its association with Beclin1 in nutrient-deprived cells, our studies revealed that HCV-mediated autophagy occurs independent of Beclin1–Bcl-2 dissociation. Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a positive regulator of cell growth and is recognized as an inhibitor of autophagy induction. Our results demonstrated that HCV infection enhances phospho-mTOR expression and its downstream target 4EBP1 activation, suggesting that mTOR is not a negative regulator of HCV-induced autophagy. On the other hand, HCV infection in autophagy-impaired cells reduced phospho-mTOR, mTOR, and phospho-4EBP1 expression. Together, these results suggested that HCV induces autophagy by upregulating Beclin1 and activates mTOR signaling pathway, which in turn may promote hepatocyte growth.
Target of rapamycin (TOR) is a central regulator of cellular and organismal growth in response to nutrient conditions. In a genetic screen for novel TOR interactors in Drosophila melanogaster, we have identified the clathrin-uncoating ATPase Hsc70-4, which is a key regulator of endocytosis. We present genetic evidence that TOR signaling stimulates bulk endocytic uptake and inhibits the targeted endocytic degradation of the amino acid importer Slimfast. Thus, TOR simultaneously down-regulates aspects of endocytosis that inhibit growth and up-regulates potential growth-promoting functions of endocytosis. In addition, we find that disruption of endocytosis leads to changes in TOR and phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase activity, affecting cell growth, autophagy, and rapamycin sensitivity. Our data indicate that endocytosis acts both as an effector function downstream of TOR and as a physiologically relevant regulator of TOR signaling.
Target of Rapamycin (TOR) is a central regulator of cellular and organismal growth in response to nutrient conditions. In a genetic screen for novel TOR interactors in Drosophila, we have identified the clathrin-uncoating ATPase Hsc70-4, a key regulator of endocytosis. We present genetic evidence that TOR signaling stimulates bulk endocytic uptake, and inhibits the targeted endocytic degradation of the amino acid importer Slimfast. Thus, TOR simultaneously downregulates aspects of endocytosis that inhibit growth, and upregulates potential growth-promoting functions of endocytosis. In addition, we find that disruption of endocytosis leads to changes in TOR and PI3K activity, affecting cell growth, autophagy and rapamycin sensitivity. Our data indicate that endocytosis acts both as a novel effector function downstream of TOR and as a physiologically relevant regulator of TOR signaling.
endocytosis; cell growth; Target of Rapamycin (TOR); Drosophila; nutrient signaling
In response to stress and nutrient starvation, the Saccharomyces cerevisiae transcription factor Msn2p accumulates in the nucleus and activates expression of a broad array of genes. Here, we analyze the role of the Tor (target of rapamycin) signaling pathway in mediating these responses. Inactivation of the Tor pathway component Tap42p using tap42(Ts) alleles causes a sustained nuclear localization similar to that after the addition of the Tor kinase inhibitor rapamycin. Effects of Tap42p inactivation and rapamycin addition could be suppressed by deletion of TIP41, which encodes a Tap42p-interacting protein. These results support the notion that rapamycin affects Msn2p by inactivating Tap42p function. Tap42p interacts with the catalytic subunit of PP2A (protein phosphatase 2A) and PP2A-like phosphatases. Deletion of either the catalytic or regulatory subunit that forms the PP2A phosphatase complex prevents nuclear accumulation of Msn2p in the tap42(Ts) strain and in wild-type strains treated with rapamycin. These results suggest that Tap42p is an inhibitor of PP2A phosphatase, which in turn inhibits nuclear export of Msn2p. Interestingly, PP2A function is also required for nuclear accumulation of Msn2p in response to stresses, such as heat and osmotic shock, as well as nitrogen (but not glucose) starvation. Thus, PP2A and the Tor kinase pathway transduce stress and nitrogen starvation signals to Msn2p. Finally, Msn2p localization is unaffected by conditional loss of 14-3-3 protein function, ruling out the possibility that 14-3-3 proteins act as a scaffold to sequester Msn2p in the cytoplasm.
The efficient use of nutrients is important in development and aging. In this study, we asked if the protein repair methyltransferase has a related or additional role in energy metabolism and stress response in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Worms lacking the pcm-1 gene encoding this enzyme exhibit reduced longevity as SDS-isolated dauer larvae and as arrested L1 larvae under starvation stress, while overexpression leads to increased adult longevity. These findings led us to question whether pcm-1 deficient C. elegans may have inappropriate metabolic responses to stress. We assayed dauer and dauer-like larvae for starvation survival and observed a 2-fold reduction of median survival time for pcm-1 mutants compared to N2 wild-type worms. Under these conditions, pcm-1 deficient dauer larvae had reduced fat stores, suggesting that PCM-1 may have a role in the initiation of the correct metabolic responses to stress starvation. We show expression of the pcm-1 gene in neurons, body wall and reproductive tissues. Upon heat shock and dauer formation-inducing conditions, we observe additional pcm-1 expression in body wall muscle nuclei and actomyosin filaments and in hypodermal cells. These results suggest that this enzyme may be important in stress response pathways, including proper decision making for energy storage.
pcm-1; L-isoaspartyl-O-methyltransferase; Caenorhabditis elegans; dauer larvae formation; survival; dauer recovery; fat storage; GFP expression
In many organisms, dietary restriction appears to extend lifespan, at least in part, by down-regulating the nutrient-sensor TOR (Target Of Rapamycin). TOR inhibition elicits autophagy, the large-scale recycling of cytoplasmic macromolecules and organelles. In this study, we asked whether autophagy might contribute to the lifespan extension induced by dietary restriction in C. elegans. We find that dietary restriction and TOR inhibition produce an autophagic phenotype and that inhibiting genes required for autophagy prevents dietary restriction and TOR inhibition from extending lifespan. The longevity response to dietary restriction in C. elegans requires the PHA-4 transcription factor. We find that the autophagic response to dietary restriction also requires PHA-4 activity, indicating that autophagy is a transcriptionally regulated response to food limitation. In spite of the rejuvenating effect that autophagy is predicted to have on cells, our findings suggest that autophagy is not sufficient to extend lifespan. Long-lived daf-2 insulin/IGF-1 receptor mutants require both autophagy and the transcription factor DAF-16/FOXO for their longevity, but we find that autophagy takes place in the absence of DAF-16. Perhaps autophagy is not sufficient for lifespan extension because although it provides raw material for new macromolecular synthesis, DAF-16/FOXO must program the cells to recycle this raw material into cell-protective longevity proteins.
Dietary restriction (limited food intake) increases lifespan in many organisms. However, the cellular processes underlying this fascinating phenomenon are still poorly understood. When an animal is starved, it degrades and recycles its organelles and other cellular components in a process called autophagy (literally “self-eating”). Here, we have asked whether autophagy also occurs in response to dietary restriction, using the roundworm C. elegans for our studies. We find that autophagy does take place when food intake is limited. Moreover, inhibiting genes required for autophagy has little effect on well-fed animals but prevents food limitation from extending lifespan. This autophagy requires PHA-4/FOXA, a life-extension protein that regulates gene expression, suggesting that changes in gene expression are required for dietary restriction to stimulate autophagy. Because autophagy seems like such a rejuvenating process, it might seem to be sufficient to increase longevity. However, we find that, in long-lived hormone-pathway mutants, both autophagy and DAF-16/FOXO, another protein that controls gene expression, are required for longevity. We propose that autophagy frees up new resources for the cell, but that transcription factors like the DAF-16/FOXO protein must channel this raw material into new cell-protective proteins in order for lifespan to be increased.
Macroautophagy (autophagy) is a bulk cytoplasmic degradation process that is conserved from yeast to mammals. Autophagy is an important cellular response to starvation and stress, and plays important roles in development, cell death, aging, immunity, and cancer. The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster provides an excellent model system to study autophagy in vivo, in the context of a developing organism. Autophagy (atg) genes and their regulators are conserved in Drosophila, and autophagy is induced in response to nutrient starvation and hormones during development. In this review we provide an overview of how Drosophila research has contributed to our understanding of the role and regulation of autophagy in cell survival, growth, nutrient utilization, and cell death. Recent Drosophila research has also provided important mechanistic information about the role of autophagy in protein aggregation disorders, neurodegeneration, aging, and innate immunity. Differences in the role of autophagy in specific contexts and/or cell types suggest that there may be cell-context-specific regulators of autophagy, and studies in Drosophila are well-suited to yield discoveries about this specificity.
Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a serine/threonine kinase that regulates a variety of cellular functions such as growth, proliferation and autophagy. In a variety of cancer cells, overactivation of mTOR has been reported. In addition, mTOR inhibitors, such as rapamycin and its derivatives, are being evaluated in clinical trials as anticancer drugs. However, no active mutants of mTOR have been identified in human cancer. Here, we report that two different point mutations, S2215Y and R2505P, identified in human cancer genome database confer constitutive activation of mTOR signaling even under nutrient starvation conditions. S2215Y was identified in large intestine adenocarcinoma whereas R2505P was identified in renal cell carcinoma. mTOR complex 1 prepared from cells expressing the mutant mTOR after nutrient starvation still retains the activity to phosphorylate 4E-BP1 in vitro. The cells expressing the mTOR mutant show increased percentage of S-phase cells and exhibit resistance to cell size decrease by amino-acid starvation. The activated mutants are still sensitive to rapamycin. However, they show increased resistance to 1-butanol. Our study points to the idea that mTOR activating mutations can be identified in a wide range of human cancer.
mTORC1; rapamycin; cancer genome database; kinase activity