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
In Drosophila, the fat body undergoes a massive burst of autophagy at the end of larval development in preparation for the pupal transition. To identify genes involved in this process, we carried out a microarray analysis. We found that mRNA levels of the homologs of Atg8, the coat protein of early autophagic structures, and lysosomal hydrolases were upregulated, consistent with previous results. Genes encoding mitochondrial proteins and many chaperones were downregulated, including the inhibitor of eIF2alpha kinases and the peptidyl-prolyl cis-trans isomerase (PPiase) FKBP39. Genetic manipulation of FKBP39 expression had a significant effect on autophagy, potentially through modulation of the transcription factor Foxo. Accordingly, we found that Foxo mutants can not properly undergo autophagy in response to starvation, and that overexpression of Foxo induces autophagy.
autophagy; Drosophila; FKBP39; Foxo; microarray
In eukaryotic cells, nutrient starvation induces the bulk degradation of cellular materials; this process is called autophagy. In the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, most of the ATG (autophagy) genes are involved in not only the process of degradative autophagy, but also a biosynthetic process, the cytoplasm to vacuole (Cvt) pathway. In contrast, the ATG17 gene is required specifically in autophagy. To better understand the function of Atg17, we have performed a biochemical characterization of the Atg17 protein. We found that the atg17Δ mutant under starvation condition was largely impaired in autophagosome formation and only rarely contained small autophagosomes, whose size was less than one-half of normal autophagosomes in diameter. Two-hybrid analyses and coimmunoprecipitation experiments demonstrated that Atg17 physically associates with Atg1-Atg13 complex, and this binding was enhanced under starvation conditions. Atg17-Atg1 binding was not detected in atg13Δ mutant cells, suggesting that Atg17 interacts with Atg1 through Atg13. A point mutant of Atg17, Atg17C24R, showed reduced affinity for Atg13, resulting in impaired Atg1 kinase activity and significant defects in autophagy. Taken together, these results indicate that Atg17-Atg13 complex formation plays an important role in normal autophagosome formation via binding to and activating the Atg1 kinase.
Autophagy is a catabolic process that is negatively regulated by growth and has been implicated in cell death. We find that autophagy is induced following growth arrest, and precedes developmental autophagic cell death of Drosophila salivary glands. Maintaining growth by expression of either activated Ras or positive regulators of the class I phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway inhibits autophagy and blocks salivary gland cell degradation. Developmental degradation of salivary glands is also inhibited in autophagy gene (atg) mutants. Caspases are active in PI3K-expressing and atg mutant salivary glands, and combined inhibition of both autophagy and caspases increases suppression of gland degradation. Further, induction of autophagy is sufficient to induce premature cell death in a caspase-independent manner. Our results provide in vivo evidence that growth arrest, autophagy, and atg genes are required for physiological autophagic cell death, and that multiple degradation pathways cooperate in the efficient clearance of cells during development.
autophagy; cell death; apoptosis; growth; Drosophila; development
Autophagy is a membrane-trafficking mechanism that delivers cytoplasmic constituents into the lysosome/vacuole for bulk protein degradation. This mechanism is involved in the preservation of nutrients under starvation condition as well as the normal turnover of cytoplasmic component. Aberrant autophagy has been reported in several neurodegenerative disorders, hepatitis, and myopathies. Here, we generated conditional knockout mice of Atg7, an essential gene for autophagy in yeast. Atg7 was essential for ATG conjugation systems and autophagosome formation, amino acid supply in neonates, and starvation-induced bulk degradation of proteins and organelles in mice. Furthermore, Atg7 deficiency led to multiple cellular abnormalities, such as appearance of concentric membranous structure and deformed mitochondria, and accumulation of ubiquitin-positive aggregates. Our results indicate the important role of autophagy in starvation response and the quality control of proteins and organelles in quiescent cells.
Eukaryotic cells have evolved strategies to respond to stress conditions. For example, autophagy in yeast is primarily a response to the stress of nutrient limitation. Autophagy is a catabolic process for the degradation and recycling of cytosolic, long lived, or aggregated proteins and excess or defective organelles. In this study, we demonstrate a new pathway for the induction of autophagy. In the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), accumulation of misfolded proteins causes stress and activates the unfolded protein response to induce the expression of chaperones and proteins involved in the recovery process. ER stress stimulated the assembly of the pre-autophagosomal structure. In addition, autophagosome formation and transport to the vacuole were stimulated in an Atg protein-dependent manner. Finally, Atg1 kinase activity reflects both the nutritional status and autophagic state of the cell; starvation-induced autophagy results in increased Atg1 kinase activity. We found that Atg1 had high kinase activity during ER stress-induced autophagy. Together, these results indicate that ER stress can induce an autophagic response.
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.
Autophagy is a catabolic process through which damaged or long-lived proteins, macromolecules, or organelles are recycled by using lysosomal degradation machinery. Although the occurrence of autophagy in several cardiac diseases including ischemic or dilated cardiomyopathy, heart failure, hypertrophy, and during ischemia/reperfusion injury have been reported, the exact role of autophagy in these diseases is not known. Emerging studies indicate that oxidative stress in cellular system could induce autophagy, and oxidatively modified macromolecules and organelles can be selectively removed by autophagy. Mild oxidative stress–induced autophagy could provide the first line of protection against major damage like apoptosis and necrosis. Cardiac-specific loss of Atg5, an autophagic gene involved in the formation of autophagosome, causes cardiac hypertrophy, left ventricular dilation, and contractile dysfunction. Recently, it was revealed that Atg4, another autophagic gene involved in the formation of autophagosomes, is controlled through redox regulation under the condition of starvation-induced autophagy. In this review, we discuss the function of autophagy in association with oxidative stress and redox signaling in the remodeling of cardiac myocardium. Further research is needed to explore the possibilities of redox regulation of other autophagic genes and the role of redox signaling–mediated autophagy in the heart. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 11, 1975–1988.
Macroautophagy (hereafter autophagy) is a cellular degradation process, which in yeast is induced in response to nutrient deprivation. In this process, a double-membrane vesicle, an autophagosome, surrounds part of the cytoplasm and fuses with the vacuole to allow the breakdown and subsequent recycling of the cargo. In yeast, many autophagy-related (ATG) genes have been identified that are required for selective and/or nonselective autophagy. In all autophagy-related pathways, core Atg proteins are required for the formation of the autophagosome, which is one of the most unique aspects of autophagy and is unlike other vesicle transport events. In contrast to nonselective autophagy, the selective processes are induced in response to various specific physiological conditions such as alterations in the carbon source. In this review, we provide an overview of the common aspects concerning the mechanism of autophagy-related pathways, and highlight recent advances in our understanding of the machinery that controls autophagy induction in response to nutrient starvation conditions.
Autophagy is a bulk proteolytic process that is indispensable for cell survival during starvation. Autophagy is induced by nutrient deprivation via inactivation of the rapamycin-sensitive Tor complex1 (TORC1), a protein kinase complex regulating cell growth in response to nutrient conditions. However, the mechanism by which TORC1 controls autophagy and the direct target of TORC1 activity remain unclear. Atg13 is an essential regulatory component of autophagy upstream of the Atg1 kinase complex, and here we show that yeast TORC1 directly phosphorylates Atg13 at multiple Ser residues. Additionally, expression of an unphosphorylatable Atg13 mutant bypasses the TORC1 pathway to induce autophagy through activation of Atg1 in cells growing under nutrient-rich conditions. Our findings suggest that the direct control of the Atg1 complex by TORC1 induces autophagy.
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.
autophagy; cell growth; programmed cell death; Target of Rapamycin (TOR); Drosophila
Autophagy is a catabolic process that functions in recycling and degrading cellular proteins, and is also induced as an adaptive response to the increased metabolic demand upon nutrient starvation. However, the prosurvival role of autophagy in response to metabolic stress due to deprivation of glutamine, the most abundant nutrient for mammalian cells, is not well understood. Here, we demonstrated that when extracellular glutamine was withdrawn, autophagy provided cells with sub-mM concentrations of glutamine, which played a critical role in fostering cell metabolism. Moreover, we uncovered a previously unknown connection between metabolic responses to ATG5 deficiency and glutamine deprivation, and revealed that WT and atg5−/− MEFs utilized both common and distinct metabolic pathways over time during glutamine deprivation. Although the early response of WT MEFs to glutamine deficiency was similar in many respects to the baseline metabolism of atg5−/− MEFs, there was a concomitant decrease in the levels of essential amino acids and branched chain amino acid catabolites in WT MEFs after 6 h of glutamine withdrawal that distinguished them from the atg5−/− MEFs. Metabolomic profiling, oxygen consumption and pathway focused quantitative RT-PCR analyses revealed that autophagy and glutamine utilization were reciprocally regulated to couple metabolic and transcriptional reprogramming. These findings provide key insights into the critical prosurvival role of autophagy in maintaining mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation and cell growth during metabolic stress caused by glutamine deprivation.
ATG5; autophagy; glutamine; ATP; transcriptional reprogramming; altered metabolism
Autophagy, an intracellular system for delivering portions of cytoplasm and damaged organelles to lysosomes for degradation/recycling, plays a role in many physiological processes and is disturbed in many diseases. We recently provided evidence for the role of autophagy in Pompe disease, a lysosomal storage disorder in which acid alpha-glucosidase, the enzyme involved in the breakdown of glycogen, is deficient or absent. Clinically the disease manifests as a cardiac and skeletal muscle myopathy. The current enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) clears lysosomal glycogen effectively from the heart but less so from skeletal muscle. In our Pompe model, the poor muscle response to therapy is associated with the presence of pools of autophagic debris. To clear the fibers of the autophagic debris, we have generated a Pompe model in which an autophagy gene, Atg7, is inactivated in muscle. Suppression of autophagy alone reduced the glycogen level by 50–60%. Following ERT, muscle glycogen was reduced to normal levels, an outcome not observed in Pompe mice with genetically intact autophagy. The suppression of autophagy, which has proven successful in the Pompe model, is a novel therapeutic approach that may be useful in other diseases with disturbed autophagy.
Pompe disease; lysosomal glycogen storage; myopathy; Atg7; enzyme replacement therapy
Autophagy is a process to degrade and recycle cytoplasmic contents. Autophagy is required for survival in response to starvation, but has also been associated with cell death. How autophagy functions during cell survival in some contexts and cell death in others is unknown. Drosophila larval salivary glands undergo programmed cell death requiring autophagy genes, and are cleared in the absence of known phagocytosis. Recently, we demonstrated that Draper (Drpr), the Drosophila homolog of C. elegans engulfment receptor CED-1, is required for autophagy induction during cell death, but not during cell survival. drpr mutants fail to clear salivary glands. drpr knockdown in salivary glands prevents the induction of autophagy, and Atg1 misexpression in drpr null mutants suppresses salivary gland persistence. Surprisingly, drpr knockdown cell-autonomously prevents autophagy induction in dying salivary gland cells, but not in larval fat body cells following starvation. This is the first engulfment factor shown to function in cellular self-clearance, and the first report of a cell-death-specific autophagy regulator.
autophagy; Draper; programmed cell death; engulfment; development
Autophagy induced by nutrient depletion is involved in survival during starvation conditions. In addition to starvation-induced autophagy, the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae also has a constitutive autophagy-like system, the Cvt pathway. Among 31 autophagy-related (Atg) proteins, the function of Atg17, Atg29, and Atg31 is required specifically for autophagy. In this study, we investigated the role of autophagy-specific (i.e., non-Cvt) proteins under autophagy-inducing conditions. For this purpose, we used atg11Δ cells in which the Cvt pathway is abrogated. The autophagy-unique proteins are required for the localization of Atg proteins to the pre-autophagosomal structure (PAS), the putative site for autophagosome formation, under starvation condition. It is likely that these Atg proteins function as a ternary complex, because Atg29 and Atg31 bind to Atg17. The Atg1 kinase complex (Atg1–Atg13) is also essential for recruitment of Atg proteins to the PAS. The assembly of Atg proteins to the PAS is observed only under autophagy-inducing conditions, indicating that this structure is specifically involved in autophagosome formation. Our results suggest that Atg1 complex and the autophagy-unique Atg proteins cooperatively organize the PAS in response to starvation signals.
Autophagy is a cellular catabolic process by which long-lived proteins and damaged organelles are degradated by lysosomes. Activation of autophagy is an important survival mechanism that protects cancer cells from various stresses, including anticancer agents. Recent studies indicate that pyrvinium pamoate, an FDA-approved antihelminthic drug, exhibits wide-ranging anticancer activity. Here we demonstrate that pyrvinium inhibits autophagy both in vitro and in vivo. We further demonstrate that the inhibition of autophagy is mammalian target of rapamycin independent but depends on the transcriptional inhibition of autophagy genes. Moreover, the combination of pyrvinium with autophagy stimuli improves its toxicity against cancer cells, and pretreatment of cells with 3-MA or siBeclin1 partially protects cells from pyrvinium-induced cell death under glucose starvation, suggesting that targeted autophagy addiction is involved in pyrvinium-mediated cytotoxicity. Finally, in vivo studies show that the combination therapy of pyrvinium with the anticancer and autophagy stimulus agent, 2-deoxy-𝒟-glucose (2-DG), is significantly more effective in inhibiting tumor growth than pyrvinium or 2-DG alone. This study supports a novel cancer therapeutic strategy based on targeting autophagy addiction and implicates using pyrvinium as an autophagy inhibitor in combination with chemotherapeutic agents to improve their therapeutic efficacy.
pyrvinium pamoate; autophagy addiction; apoptosis; 2-deoxy-𝒟-glucose
Autophagy is a finely orchestrated cellular catabolic process that requires multiple autophagy-related gene products (ATG). The ULK1 complex functions to integrate upstream signals to downstream ATG proteins through an unknown mechanism. Here, we identified an interaction between mammalian FIP200 and ATG16L1, essential components of the ULK1 and ATG5 complexes, respectively. Further analyses demonstrate that this is a direct interaction mediated by a short domain of ATG16L1 which we term the FIP200-Binding Domain (FBD). The FBD is not required for ATG16L1 self-dimerization or interaction with ATG5. Importantly, FBD-deleted ATG16L1 mutant is defective in mediating amino acid starvation-induced autophagy, which requires the ULK1 complex. Intriguingly, this mutant retains its function in supporting glucose deprivation-induced autophagy, a ULK1 complex-independent process. Our study has therefore identified a novel interaction between the ULK1 and ATG5 complexes that can distinguish ULK1-dependent and -independent autophagy processes.
B cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2) proteins are the central regulators of apoptosis. The two bcl-2 genes in Drosophila modulate the response to stress-induced cell death, but not developmental cell death. Because null mutants are viable, Drosophila provides an optimum model system to investigate alternate functions of Bcl-2 proteins. In this report, we explore the role of one bcl-2 gene in nutrient stress responses.
We report that starvation of Drosophila larvae lacking the bcl-2 gene, buffy, decreases survival rate by more than twofold relative to wild-type larvae. The buffy null mutant reacted to starvation with the expected responses such as inhibition of target of rapamycin (Tor) signaling, autophagy initiation and mobilization of stored lipids. However, the autophagic response to starvation initiated faster in larvae lacking buffy and was inhibited by ectopic buffy. We demonstrate that unusually high basal Tor signaling, indicated by more phosphorylated S6K, was detected in the buffy mutant and that removal of a genomic copy of S6K, but not inactivation of Tor by rapamycin, reverted the precocious autophagy phenotype. Instead, Tor inactivation also required loss of a positive nutrient signal to trigger autophagy and loss of both was sufficient to activate autophagy in the buffy mutant even in the presence of enforced phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) signaling. Prior to starvation, the fed buffy mutant stored less lipid and glycogen, had high lactate levels and maintained a reduced pool of cellular ATP. These observations, together with the inability of buffy mutant larvae to adapt to nutrient restriction, indicate altered energy metabolism in the absence of buffy.
All animals in their natural habitats are faced with periods of reduced nutrient availability. This study demonstrates that buffy is required for adaptation to both starvation and nutrient restriction. Thus, Buffy is a Bcl-2 protein that plays an important non-apoptotic role to promote survival of the whole organism in a stressful situation.
autophagy; Bcl-2; metabolism; non-apoptotic; nutrient restriction; S6K; starvation; Tor
Autophagy is an intracellular degradation system, by which cytoplasmic contents are degraded in lysosomes. Autophagy is dynamically induced by nutrient depletion to provide necessary amino acids within cells, thus helping them adapt to starvation. Although it has been suggested that mTOR is a major negative regulator of autophagy, how it controls autophagy has not yet been determined. Here, we report a novel mammalian autophagy factor, Atg13, which forms a stable ∼3-MDa protein complex with ULK1 and FIP200. Atg13 localizes on the autophagic isolation membrane and is essential for autophagosome formation. In contrast to yeast counterparts, formation of the ULK1–Atg13–FIP200 complex is not altered by nutrient conditions. Importantly, mTORC1 is incorporated into the ULK1–Atg13–FIP200 complex through ULK1 in a nutrient-dependent manner and mTOR phosphorylates ULK1 and Atg13. ULK1 is dephosphorylated by rapamycin treatment or starvation. These data suggest that mTORC1 suppresses autophagy through direct regulation of the ∼3-MDa ULK1–Atg13–FIP200 complex.
Autophagy is the major degradative process for recycling cytoplasmic constituents and eliminating unnecessary organelles in eukaryotic cells. Most autophagy-related (Atg) proteins are recruited to the phagophore assembly site (PAS), a proposed site for vesicle formation during either nonspecific or specific types of autophagy. Therefore, appropriate recruitment of Atg proteins to this site is critical for their function in autophagy. Atg11 facilitates PAS recruitment for the cytoplasm-to-vacuole targeting pathway, which is a specific, autophagy-like process that occurs under vegetative conditions. In contrast, it is not known how Atg proteins are recruited to the PAS, nor which components are involved in PAS formation under nonspecific autophagy-inducing, starvation conditions. Here, we studied PAS assembly during nonspecific autophagy, using an atg11Δ mutant background to eliminate the PAS formation that occurs during vegetative growth. We found that protein complexes containing the Atg1 kinase have two roles for PAS formation during nonspecific autophagy. The Atg1 C terminus mediates an interaction with Atg13 and Atg17, facilitating a structural role of Atg1 that is needed to efficiently organize an initial step of PAS assembly, whereas Atg1 kinase activity affects the dynamics of protein movement at the PAS involved in Atg protein cycling.
Blocking autophagy protects the apoptosis inhibitor dBruce from destruction and promotes nurse cell survival in developing egg chambers.
Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved pathway responsible for degradation of cytoplasmic material via the lysosome. Although autophagy has been reported to contribute to cell death, the underlying mechanisms remain largely unknown. In this study, we show that autophagy controls DNA fragmentation during late oogenesis in Drosophila melanogaster. Inhibition of autophagy by genetically removing the function of the autophagy genes atg1, atg13, and vps34 resulted in late stage egg chambers that contained persisting nurse cell nuclei without fragmented DNA and attenuation of caspase-3 cleavage. The Drosophila inhibitor of apoptosis (IAP) dBruce was found to colocalize with the autophagic marker GFP-Atg8a and accumulated in autophagy mutants. Nurse cells lacking Atg1 or Vps34 in addition to dBruce contained persisting nurse cell nuclei with fragmented DNA. This indicates that autophagic degradation of dBruce controls DNA fragmentation in nurse cells. Our results reveal autophagic degradation of an IAP as a novel mechanism of triggering cell death and thereby provide a mechanistic link between autophagy and cell death.
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.
Autophagy is a process by which cells recycle cytoplasm and defective organelles during stress situations such as nutrient starvation. It can also be used by host cells as an immune defense mechanism to eliminate infectious pathogens. Here we describe the use of autophagy as a survival mechanism and virulence-associated trait by the human fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans. We report that a mutant form of C. neoformans lacking the Vps34 PI3K (vps34Δ), which is known to be involved in autophagy in ascomycete yeast, was defective in the formation of autophagy-related 8–labeled (Atg8-labeled) vesicles and showed a dramatic attenuation in virulence in mouse models of infection. In addition, autophagic vesicles were observed in WT but not vps34Δ cells after phagocytosis by a murine macrophage cell line, and Atg8 expression was exhibited in WT C. neoformans during human infection of brain. To dissect the contribution of defective autophagy in vps34Δ C. neoformans during pathogenesis, a strain of C. neoformans in which Atg8 expression was knocked down by RNA interference was constructed and these fungi also demonstrated markedly attenuated virulence in a mouse model of infection. These results demonstrated PI3K signaling and autophagy as a virulence-associated trait and survival mechanism during infection with a fungal pathogen. Moreover, the data show that molecular dissection of such pathogen stress-response pathways may identify new approaches for chemotherapeutic interventions.
Plant autophagy plays an important role in delaying senescence, nutrient recycling, and stress responses. Functional analysis of plant autophagy has almost exclusively focused on the proteins required for the core process of autophagosome assembly, but little is known about the proteins involved in other important processes of autophagy, including autophagy cargo recognition and sequestration. In this study, we report functional genetic analysis of Arabidopsis NBR1, a homolog of mammalian autophagy cargo adaptors P62 and NBR1. We isolated two nbr1 knockout mutants and discovered that they displayed some but not all of the phenotypes of autophagy-deficient atg5 and atg7 mutants. Like ATG5 and ATG7, NBR1 is important for plant tolerance to heat, oxidative, salt, and drought stresses. The role of NBR1 in plant tolerance to these abiotic stresses is dependent on its interaction with ATG8. Unlike ATG5 and ATG7, however, NBR1 is dispensable in age- and darkness-induced senescence and in resistance to a necrotrophic pathogen. A selective role of NBR1 in plant responses to specific abiotic stresses suggest that plant autophagy in diverse biological processes operates through multiple cargo recognition and delivery systems. The compromised heat tolerance of atg5, atg7, and nbr1 mutants was associated with increased accumulation of insoluble, detergent-resistant proteins that were highly ubiquitinated under heat stress. NBR1, which contains an ubiquitin-binding domain, also accumulated to high levels with an increasing enrichment in the insoluble protein fraction in the autophagy-deficient mutants under heat stress. These results suggest that NBR1-mediated autophagy targets ubiquitinated protein aggregates most likely derived from denatured or otherwise damaged nonnative proteins generated under stress conditions.
Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved process that sequestrates and delivers cytoplasmic macromolecules and organelles to the vacuoles or lysosomes for degradation. In plants, autophagy is involved in supplying internal nutrients during starvation and in promoting cell survival during senescence and during biotic and abiotic stresses. Arabidopsis NBR1 is a homolog of mammalian autophagy cargo adaptors P62 and NBR1. Disruption of Arabidopsis NBR1 caused increased sensitivity to a spectrum of abiotic stresses but had no significant effect on plant senescence, responses to carbon starvation, or resistance to a necrotrophic pathogen. NBR1 contains an ubiquitin-binding domain, and the compromised stress tolerance of autophagy mutants was associated with increased accumulation of NBR1 and ubiquitin-positive cellular protein aggregates in the insoluble protein fraction under stress conditions. Based on these results, we propose that NBR1 targets ubiquitinated protein aggregates most likely derived from denatured and otherwise damaged nonnative proteins for autophagic clearance under stress conditions.
Autophagy plays an important role in the cellular response to a variety of metabolic stress conditions thus contributing to the maintenance of intracellular homeostasis. Studies in yeast have defined the genetic components involved in the initiation of autophagy as well as the progression through the autophagic cascade. The yeast kinase Atg1 initiates autophagy in response to nutrient limitation in a TOR-dependent manner. The ulk family of genes encodes the mammalian ortholog of yeast Atg1. Our recent work using mouse embryonic fibroblast (MEF) cell lines deficient for both ulk1 and ulk2 has revealed that autophagy induction is more complex in mammals than in yeast. Furthermore, these data confirm the surprising finding that a by-product of amino acid metabolism, ammonia, is a strong inducer of autophagy, as first shown by the Abraham laboratory.
ammonia; Ulk1/2; autophagy; metabolism