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1.  Exercise–induced BCL2–regulated autophagy is required for muscle glucose homeostasis 
Nature  2012;481(7382):511-515.
Exercise has beneficial effects on human health, including protection against metabolic disorders such as diabetes1. However, the cellular mechanisms underlying these effects are incompletely understood. The lysosomal degradation pathway, autophagy, is an intracellular recycling system that functions during basal conditions in organelle and protein quality control2. During stress, increased levels of autophagy permit cells to adapt to changing nutritional and energy demands through protein catabolism3. Moreover, in animal models, autophagy protects against diseases such as cancer, neuro-degenerative disorders, infections, inflammatory diseases, ageing and insulin resistance4-6. Here we show that acute exercise induces autophagy in skeletal and cardiac muscle of fed mice. To investigate the role of exercise-mediated autophagy in vivo, we generated mutant mice that show normal levels of basal autophagy but are deficient in stimulus (exercise- or starvation)-induced autophagy. These mice (termed BCL2 AAA mice) contain knock-in mutations in BCL2 phosphorylation sites (Thr69Ala, Ser70Ala and Ser84Ala) that prevent stimulus-induced disruption of the BCL2-beclin-1 complex and autophagy activation. BCL2 AAA mice show decreased endurance and altered glucose metabolism during acute exercise, as well as impaired chronic exercise-mediated protection against high-fat-diet-induced glucose intolerance. Thus, exercise induces autophagy, BCL2 is a crucial regulator of exercise- (and starvation)- induced autophagy in vivo, and autophagy induction may contribute to the beneficial metabolic effects of exercise.
doi:10.1038/nature10758
PMCID: PMC3518436  PMID: 22258505
2.  Prophylactic effects of swimming exercise on autophagy-induced muscle atrophy in diabetic rats 
Laboratory Animal Research  2012;28(3):171-179.
Diabetes decreases skeletal muscle mass and induces atrophy. However, the mechanisms by which hyperglycemia and insulin deficiency modify muscle mass are not well defined. In this study, we evaluated the effects of swimming exercise on muscle mass and intracellular protein degradation in diabetic rats, and proposed that autophagy inhibition induced by swimming exercise serves as a hypercatabolic mechanism in the skeletal muscles of diabetic rats, supporting a notion that swimming exercise could efficiently reverse the reduced skeletal muscle mass caused by diabetes. Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were injected intraperitoneally with streptozotocin (60 mg/kg body weight) to induce diabetes and then submitted to 1 hr per day of forced swimming exercise, 5 days per week for 4 weeks. We conducted an intraperitoneal glucose tolerance test on the animals and measured body weight, skeletal muscle mass, and protein degradation and examined the level of autophagy in the isolated extensor digitorum longus, plantaris, and soleus muscles. Body weight and muscle tissue mass were higher in the exercising diabetic rats than in control diabetic rats that remained sedentary. Compared to control rats, exercising diabetic rats had lower blood glucose levels, increased intracellular contractile protein expression, and decreased autophagic protein expression. We conclude that swimming exercise improves muscle mass in diabetes-induced skeletal muscle atrophy, suggesting the activation of autophagy in diabetes contributes to muscle atrophy through hypercatabolic metabolism and that aerobic exercise, by suppressing autophagy, may modify or reverse skeletal muscle wasting in diabetic patients.
doi:10.5625/lar.2012.28.3.171
PMCID: PMC3469845  PMID: 23091517
Autophagy; diabetes; muscle atrophy; swimming exercise; prophylactic effect
3.  Chronic Caloric Restriction and Exercise Improve Metabolic Conditions of Dietary-Induced Obese Mice in Autophagy Correlated Manner without Involving AMPK 
Journal of Diabetes Research  2013;2013:852754.
Aim. To investigate the role of AMPK activation and autophagy in mediating the beneficial effects of exercise and caloric restriction in obesity. Methods. Dietary-induced obesity mice were made and divided into 5 groups; one additional group of normal mice serves as control. Mice in each group received different combinations of interventions including low fat diet, caloric restriction, and exercise. Then their metabolic conditions were assessed by measuring serum glucose and insulin, serum lipids, and liver function. AMPK phosphorylation and autophagy activity were detected by western blotting. Results. Obese mice models were successfully induced by high fat diet. Caloric restriction consistently improved the metabolic conditions of the obese mice, and the effects are more prominent than the mice that received only exercise. Also, caloric restriction, exercise, and low fat diet showed a synergistic effect in the improvement of metabolic conditions. Western blotting results showed that this improvement was not related with the activation of AMPK in liver, skeletal muscle, or heart but correlates well with the autophagy activity. Conclusion. Caloric restriction has more prominent beneficial effects than exercise in dietary-induced obese mice. These effects are correlated with the autophagy activity and may be independent of AMPK activation.
doi:10.1155/2013/852754
PMCID: PMC3671310  PMID: 23762877
4.  Autophagy and cancer cell metabolism 
Autophagy is a catabolic process involving lysosomal turnover of proteins and organelles for maintenance of cellular homeostasis and mitigation of metabolic stress. Autophagy defects are linked to diseases, such as liver failure, neurodegeneration, inflammatory bowel disease, aging and cancer. The role of autophagy in tumorigenesis is complex and likely context-dependent. Human breast, ovarian and prostate cancers have allelic deletions of the essential autophagy regulator BECN1 and Becn1+/− and other autophagy-deficient transgenic mice are tumor-prone, whereas tumors with constitutive Ras activation, including human pancreatic cancers, upregulate basal autophagy and are commonly addicted to this pathway for survival and growth; furthermore, autophagy suppression by Fip200 deletion compromises PyMT-induced mammary tumorigenesis. The double-edged sword function of autophagy in cancer has been attributed to both cell- and non-cell-autonomous mechanisms, as autophagy defects promote cancer progression in association with oxidative and ER stress, DNA damage accumulation, genomic instability and persistence of inflammation, while functional autophagy enables cancer cell survival under stress and likely contributes to treatment resistance. In this review, we will focus on the intimate link between autophagy and cancer cell metabolism, a topic of growing interest in recent years, which has been recognized as highly clinically relevant and has become the focus of intense investigation in translational cancer research. Many tumor-associated conditions, including intermittent oxygen and nutrient deprivation, oxidative stress, fast growth and cell death suppression, modulate, in parallel and in interconnected ways, both cellular metabolism and autophagy to enable cancer cells to rapidly adapt to environmental stressors, maintain uncontrolled proliferation and evade the toxic effects of radiation and/or chemotherapy. Elucidating the interplay between autophagy and tumor cell metabolism will provide unique opportunities to identify new therapeutic targets and develop synthetically lethal treatment strategies that preferentially target cancer cells, while sparing normal tissues.
doi:10.1016/j.semcdb.2012.01.005
PMCID: PMC3639127  PMID: 22281437
Autophagy; Cancer cell metabolism; Warburg effect; Oxidative phosphorylation; Glycolysis
5.  miRNA in the Regulation of Skeletal Muscle Adaptation to Acute Endurance Exercise in C57Bl/6J Male Mice 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(5):e5610.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are evolutionarily conserved small non-coding RNA species involved in post-transcriptional gene regulation. In vitro studies have identified a small number of skeletal muscle-specific miRNAs which play a crucial role in myoblast proliferation and differentiation. In skeletal muscle, an acute bout of endurance exercise results in the up-regulation of transcriptional networks that regulate mitochondrial biogenesis, glucose and fatty acid metabolism, and skeletal muscle remodelling. The purpose of this study was to assess the expressional profile of targeted miRNA species following an acute bout of endurance exercise and to determine relationships with previously established endurance exercise responsive transcriptional networks. C57Bl/6J wild-type male mice (N = 7/group) were randomly assigned to either sedentary or forced-endurance exercise (treadmill run @ 15 m/min for 90 min) group. The endurance exercise group was sacrificed three hours following a single bout of exercise. The expression of miR- 181, 1, 133, 23, and 107, all of which have been predicted to regulate transcription factors and co-activators involved in the adaptive response to exercise, was measured in quadriceps femoris muscle. Endurance exercise significantly increased the expression of miR-181, miR-1, and miR-107 by 37%, 40%, and 56%, respectively, and reduced miR-23 expression by 84% (P≤0.05 for all), with no change in miR-133. Importantly, decreased expression of miRNA-23, a putative negative regulator of PGC-1α was consistent with increased expression of PGC-1α mRNA and protein along with several downstream targets of PGC-1α including ALAS, CS, and cytochrome c mRNA. PDK4 protein content remains unaltered despite an increase in its putative negative regulator, miR-107, and PDK4 mRNA expression. mRNA expression of miRNA processing machinery (Drosha, Dicer, and DGCR8) remained unchanged. We conclude that miRNA-mediated post-transcriptional regulation is potentially involved in the complex regulatory networks that govern skeletal muscle adaptation to endurance exercise in C57Bl/6J male mice.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005610
PMCID: PMC2680038  PMID: 19440340
6.  Assessing Metabolic Stress and Autophagy Status in Epithelial Tumors 
Methods in enzymology  2009;453:53-81.
Autophagy is a survival mechanism activated in response to metabolic stress. In normal tissues autophagy plays a major role in energy homeostasis through catabolic self-digestion of damaged proteins and organelles. Contrary to its survival function, autophagy defects are implicated in tumorigenesis suggesting that autophagy is a tumor suppression mechanism. Although the exact mechanism of this tumor suppressor function is not known, it likely involves mitigation of cellular damage leading to chromosomal instability. The complex role of functional autophagy in tumors calls for model systems that allow the assessment of autophagy status, stress management and the impact on oncogenesis both in vitro as well as in vivo. We developed model systems that involve generation of genetically defined, isogenic and immortal epithelial cells from different tissue types that are applicable to both wild-type and mutant mice. This permits the study of tissue- as well as gene-specific tumor promoting functions. We successfully employed this strategy to generate isogenic, immortal epithelial cell lines from wild-type and mutant mice deficient in essential autophagy genes such as beclin 1 (beclin 1+/-) and atg5 (atg 5-/-). As these cell lines are amenable to further genetic manipulation, they allowed us to generate cell lines with apoptosis defects and stable expression of the autophagy marker EGFP-LC3 that facilitate in vitro and in vivo assessment of stress-mediated autophagy induction. We applied this model system to directly monitor autophagy in cells and 3D-morphogenesis in vitro as well as in tumor allografts in vivo. Using this model system we demonstrated that autophagy is a survival response in solid tumors that co-localizes with hypoxic regions, allowing tolerance to metabolic stress. Furthermore, our studies have established that autophagy also protects tumor cells from genome damage and limits cell death and inflammation as possible means to tumor suppression. Additionally these cell lines provide an efficient way to perform biochemical analyses, and high throughput screening for modulators of autophagy for potential use in cancer therapy and prevention.
doi:10.1016/S0076-6879(08)04004-4
PMCID: PMC2857509  PMID: 19216902
7.  Combinatory effects of siRNA‐induced myostatin inhibition and exercise on skeletal muscle homeostasis and body composition 
Physiological Reports  2014;2(3):e00262.
Abstract
Inhibition of myostatin (Mstn) stimulates skeletal muscle growth, reduces body fat, and induces a number of metabolic changes. However, it remains unexplored how exercise training modulates the response to Mstn inhibition. The aim of this study was to investigate how siRNA‐mediated Mstn inhibition alone but also in combination with physical activity affects body composition and skeletal muscle homeostasis. Adult mice were treated with Mstn‐targeting siRNA and subjected to a treadmill‐based exercise protocol for 4 weeks. Effects on skeletal muscle and fat tissue, expression of genes, and serum concentration of proteins involved in myostatin signaling, skeletal muscle homeostasis, and lipid metabolism were investigated and compared with Mstn−/− mice. The combination of siRNA‐mediated Mstn knockdown and exercise induced skeletal muscle hypertrophy, which was associated with an upregulation of markers for satellite cell activity. SiRNA‐mediated Mstn knockdown decreased visceral fat and modulated lipid metabolism similar to effects observed in Mstn−/− mice. Myostatin did not regulate its own expression via an autoregulatory loop, however, Mstn knockdown resulted in a decrease in the serum concentrations of myostatin propeptide, leptin, and follistatin. The ratio of these three parameters was distinct between Mstn knockdown, exercise, and their combination. Taken together, siRNA‐mediated Mstn knockdown in combination with exercise stimulated skeletal muscle hypertrophy. Each intervention or their combination induced a specific set of adaptive responses in the skeletal muscle and fat metabolism which could be identified by marker proteins in serum.
The aim of this study was to investigate how siRNA‐mediated Mstn inhibition alone but also in combination with physical activity affects body composition and skeletal muscle homeostasis. Adult mice were treated with Mstn‐targeting siRNA and subjected to a treadmill‐based exercise protocol for 4 weeks. SiRNA‐mediated Mstn knockdown in combination with exercise stimulated skeletal muscle hypertrophy and resulted in reduced body fat content.
doi:10.1002/phy2.262
PMCID: PMC4002242  PMID: 24760516
Exercise; follistatin; myostatin; RNA interference
8.  Exercise-induced muscle glucose uptake in mice with graded, muscle-specific GLUT-4 deletion 
Physiological Reports  2013;1(3):e00065.
To investigate the importance of the glucose transporter GLUT-4 for muscle glucose uptake during exercise, transgenic mice with skeletal muscle GLUT-4 expression approximately 30–60% of normal (CON) and approximately 5–10% of normal (KO) were generated using the Cre/Lox system and compared with wild-type (WT) mice during approximately 40 min of treadmill running (KO: 37.7 ± 1.3 min; WT: 40 min; CON: 40 min, P = 0.18). In WT and CON animals, exercise resulted in an overall increase in muscle glucose uptake. More specifically, glucose uptake was increased in red gastrocnemius of WT mice and in the soleus and red gastrocnemius of CON mice. In contrast, the exercise-induced increase in muscle glucose uptake in all muscles was completely abolished in KO mice. Muscle glucose uptake increased during exercise in both red and white quadriceps of WT mice, while the small increases in CON mice were not statistically significant. In KO mice, there was no change at all in quadriceps muscle glucose uptake. No differences in muscle glycogen use during exercise were observed between any of the groups. However, there was a significant increase in plasma glucose levels after exercise in KO mice. The results of this study demonstrated that a reduction in skeletal muscle GLUT-4 expression to approximately 10% of normal levels completely abolished the exercise-induced increase in muscle glucose uptake.
doi:10.1002/phy2.65
PMCID: PMC3835018  PMID: 24303141
exercise; GLUT4; muscle glucose uptake
9.  Autophagy Provides Nutrients but Can Lead to Chop-dependent Induction of Bim to Sensitize Growth Factor–deprived Cells to Apoptosis 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2009;20(4):1180-1191.
Tissue homeostasis is controlled by the availability of growth factors, which sustain exogenous nutrient uptake and prevent apoptosis. Although autophagy can provide an alternate intracellular nutrient source to support essential basal metabolism of apoptosis-resistant growth factor–withdrawn cells, antiapoptotic Bcl-2 family proteins can suppress autophagy in some settings. Thus, the role of autophagy and interactions between autophagy and apoptosis in growth factor–withdrawn cells expressing Bcl-2 or Bcl-xL were unclear. Here we show autophagy was rapidly induced in hematopoietic cells upon growth factor withdrawal regardless of Bcl-2 or Bcl-xL expression and led to increased mitochondrial lipid oxidation. Deficiency in autophagy-essential gene expression, however, did not lead to metabolic catastrophe and rapid death of growth factor–deprived cells. Rather, inhibition of autophagy enhanced survival of cells with moderate Bcl-2 expression for greater than 1 wk, indicating that autophagy promoted cell death in this time frame. Cell death was not autophagic, but apoptotic, and relied on Chop-dependent induction of the proapoptotic Bcl-2 family protein Bim. Therefore, although ultimately important, autophagy-derived nutrients appear initially nonessential after growth factor withdrawal. Instead, autophagy promotes tissue homeostasis by sensitizing cells to apoptosis to ensure only the most apoptosis-resistant cells survive long-term using autophagy-derived nutrients when growth factor deprived.
doi:10.1091/mbc.E08-08-0829
PMCID: PMC2642748  PMID: 19109422
10.  Facilitated ethanol metabolism promotes cardiomyocyte contractile dysfunction through autophagy in murine hearts 
Autophagy  2012;8(4):593-608.
Chronic drinking leads to myocardial contractile dysfunction where ethanol metabolism plays an essential role. Acetaldehyde, the main ethanol metabolite, mediates alcohol-induced cell injury although the underlying mechanism is still elusive. This study was designed to examine the mechanism involved in accelerated ethanol metabolism-induced cardiac defect with a focus on autophagy. Wild-type FVB and cardiac-specific overexpression of alcohol dehydrogenase mice were placed on a 4% nutrition-balanced alcohol diet for 8 weeks. Myocardial histology, immunohistochemistry, autophagy markers and signal molecules were examined. Expression of micro RNA miR-30a, a potential target of Beclin 1, was evaluated by real-time PCR. Chronic alcohol intake led to cardiac acetaldehyde accumulation, hypertrophy and overt autophagosome accumulation (LC3-II and Atg7), the effect of which was accentuated by ADH. Signaling molecules governing autophagy initiation including class III PtdIns3K, phosphorylation of mTOR and p70S6K were enhanced and dampened, respectively, following alcohol intake. These alcohol-induced signaling responses were augmented by ADH. ADH accentuated or unmasked alcohol-induced downregulation of Bcl-2, Bcl-xL and MiR-30a. Interestingly, ADH aggravated alcohol-induced p62 accumulation. Autophagy inhibition using 3-MA abolished alcohol-induced cardiomyocyte contractile anomalies. Moreover, acetaldehyde led to cardiomyocyte contractile dysfunction and autophagy induction, which was ablated by 3-MA. Ethanol or acetaldehyde increased GFP-LC3 puncta in H9c2 cells, the effect of which was ablated by 3-MA but unaffected by lysosomal inhibition using bafilomycin A1, E64D and pepstatin A. In summary, these data suggested that facilitated acetaldehyde production via ADH following alcohol intake triggered cardiac autophagosome formation along with impaired lysosomal degradation, en route to myocardial defect.
doi:10.4161/auto.18997
PMCID: PMC3405837  PMID: 22441020
ADH; acetaldehyde; autophagy; cardiac function; ethanol; flux; histology
11.  Energy-preserving effects of IGF-1 antagonize starvation-induced cardiac autophagy 
Cardiovascular Research  2011;93(2):320-329.
Aims
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1093/cvr/cvr321
PMCID: PMC3286200  PMID: 22135164
IGF-1; Macroautophagy; Heart; ATP; Akt; mTOR
12.  Autophagy Signaling in Skeletal Muscle of Infarcted Rats 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85820.
Background
Heart failure (HF)-induced skeletal muscle atrophy is often associated to exercise intolerance and poor prognosis. Better understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying HF-induced muscle atrophy may contribute to the development of pharmacological strategies to prevent or treat such condition. It has been shown that autophagy-lysosome system is an important mechanism for maintenance of muscle mass. However, its role in HF-induced myopathy has not been addressed yet. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to evaluate autophagy signaling in myocardial infarction (MI)-induced muscle atrophy in rats.
Methods/Principal Findings
Wistar rats underwent MI or Sham surgeries, and after 12 weeks were submitted to echocardiography, exercise tolerance and histology evaluations. Cathepsin L activity and expression of autophagy-related genes and proteins were assessed in soleus and plantaris muscles by fluorimetric assay, qRT-PCR and immunoblotting, respectively. MI rats displayed exercise intolerance, left ventricular dysfunction and dilation, thereby suggesting the presence of HF. The key findings of the present study were: a) upregulation of autophagy-related genes (GABARAPL1, ATG7, BNIP3, CTSL1 and LAMP2) was observed only in plantaris while muscle atrophy was observed in both soleus and plantaris muscles, and b) Cathepsin L activity, Bnip3 and Fis1 protein levels, and levels of lipid hydroperoxides were increased specifically in plantaris muscle of MI rats.
Conclusions
Altogether our results provide evidence for autophagy signaling regulation in HF-induced plantaris atrophy but not soleus atrophy. Therefore, autophagy-lysosome system is differentially regulated in atrophic muscles comprising different fiber-types and metabolic characteristics.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0085820
PMCID: PMC3888434  PMID: 24427319
13.  Identification of ROCK1 kinase as a critical regulator of Beclin1 mediated autophagy during metabolic stress 
Nature communications  2013;4:2189.
The Ser/Thr Rho kinase 1 (ROCK1) is known to play major roles in a wide range of cellular activities, including those involved in tumor metastasis and apoptosis. Here we identify an indispensable function of ROCK1 in metabolic stress-induced autophagy. Applying a proteomics approach, we characterize Beclin1, a proximal component of the PI(3)kinase class III lipid-kinase complex that induces autophagy, as an interacting partner of ROCK1. Upon nutrient deprivation, activated ROCK1 promotes autophagy by binding and phosphorylating Beclin1 at Thr119. This results in the specific dissociation of the Beclin1-Bcl-2 complex, without affecting the Beclin1-UVRAG interaction. Conversely, inhibition of ROCK1 activity increases Beclin1-Bcl-2 association, thus reducing nutritional stress-mediated autophagy. Genetic knockout of ROCK1 function in mice also leads to impaired autophagy as evidenced by reduced autophagosome formation. These results show that ROCK1 acts as a prominent upstream regulator of Beclin1-mediated autophagy and maintains a homeostatic balance between apoptosis and autophagy.
doi:10.1038/ncomms3189
PMCID: PMC3740589  PMID: 23877263
14.  Intermittent injections of osteocalcin reverse autophagic dysfunction and endoplasmic reticulum stress resulting from diet-induced obesity in the vascular tissue via the NFκB-p65-dependent mechanism 
Cell Cycle  2013;12(12):1901-1913.
The osteoblast-specific secreted molecule osteocalcin behaves as a hormone-regulating glucose and lipid metabolism, but the role of osteocalcin in cardiovascular disease (CVD) is not fully understood. In the present study, we investigated the effect of osteocalcin on autophagy and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress secondary to diet-induced obesity in the vascular tissue of mice and in vascular cell models and clarified the intracellular events responsible for osteocalcin-mediated effects. The evidences showed that intermittent injections of osteocalcin in mice fed the high-fat diet were associated with a reduced body weight gain, decreased blood glucose and improved insulin sensitivity compared with mice fed the high-fat diet receiving vehicle. Simultaneously, the administration of osteocalcin not only attenuated autophagy and ER stress but also rescued impaired insulin signaling in vascular tissues of mice fed a high-fat diet. Consistent with these results in vivo, the addition of osteocalcin reversed autophagy and ER stress and restored defective insulin sensitivity in vascular endothelial cells (VECs) and vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) in the presence of tunicamycin or in knockout XBP-1 (a transcription factor which mediates ER stress response) cells or in Atg7−/− cells. The protective effects of osteocalcin were nullified by suppression of Akt, mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) or nuclear factor kappa B (NFκB), suggesting that osteocalcin inhibits autophagy, ER stress and improves insulin signaling in the vascular tissue and cells under insulin resistance in a NFκB-dependent manner, which may be a promising therapeutic strategies of cardiovascular dysfunction secondary to obesity.
doi:10.4161/cc.24929
PMCID: PMC3735704  PMID: 23708521
Akt; ER stress; NFκB; autophagy; mTOR; obesity; osteocalcin
15.  Role of Autophagy in Glycogen Breakdown and Its Relevance to Chloroquine Myopathy 
PLoS Biology  2013;11(11):e1001708.
A novel Drosophila model system of chloroquine myopathy reveals how glycogen is targeted to the lysosome and what the significance of this process is for muscle cells.
Several myopathies are associated with defects in autophagic and lysosomal degradation of glycogen, but it remains unclear how glycogen is targeted to the lysosome and what significance this process has for muscle cells. We have established a Drosophila melanogaster model to study glycogen autophagy in skeletal muscles, using chloroquine (CQ) to simulate a vacuolar myopathy that is completely dependent on the core autophagy genes. We show that autophagy is required for the most efficient degradation of glycogen in response to starvation. Furthermore, we show that CQ-induced myopathy can be improved by reduction of either autophagy or glycogen synthesis, the latter possibly due to a direct role of Glycogen Synthase in regulating autophagy through its interaction with Atg8.
Author Summary
Lysosomes are organelles that work as a disposal system for the cell. It is known that lysosomes can degrade glycogen and that defects in this function trigger the accumulation of vesicles containing glycogen in animals that lead to vacuolar myopathies—diseases that result in muscle weakness. However, it remains unclear how and why glycogen is degraded through this system, and what significance it has for the pathology of such diseases. Here, we addressed these questions by establishing a fruitfly model system to study glycogen autophagy in skeletal muscles. By feeding the flies chloroquine (CQ), we induce a vacuolar myopathy associated with massive accumulation of glycogen-filled vesicles, and assay the role of autophagy and glycogen metabolic enzymes in this process. We show that CQ-induced glycogen autophagy is completely dependent on the core conserved autophagy genes and that this autophagy is triggered by nutrient deprivation in a Tor-dependent manner. Interestingly, while glycogen autophagy and enzymatic glycogen breakdown can compensate for each other, concurrent inhibition of both systems blocks glycogen breakdown. Finally, we show that CQ-induced myopathy can be improved by reduction of either autophagy or glycogen synthesis, the latter possibly due to a direct role of glycogen synthase—the main enzyme involved in converting glucose to glycogen—in regulating autophagy through its interaction with the autophagosome.
doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001708
PMCID: PMC3825659  PMID: 24265594
16.  ENDURANCE EXERCISE PROMOTES CARDIORESPIRATORY REHABILITATION WITHOUT NEURORESTORATION IN THE CHRONIC MOUSE MODEL OF PARKINSONISM WITH SEVERE NEURODEGENERATION 
Neuroscience  2007;149(1):28-37.
Physical rehabilitation with endurance exercise for patients with Parkinson's disease has not been well established, although some clinical and laboratory reports suggest that exercise may produce neuroprotective effect and restore dopaminergic and motor functions. In this study, we used a chronic mouse model of Parkinsonism, which was induced by injecting male C57BL/6 mice with 10 doses of 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (25 mg/kg) and probenecid (250 mg/kg) over five weeks. This chronic Parkinsonian model displays a severe and persistent loss of nigrostriatal neurons resulting in robust dopamine depletion and locomotor impairment in mice. Following the induction of Parkinsonism, these mice were capable to sustain an exercise training program on a motorized rodent treadmill at a speed of 18 m/min, 0° of inclination, 40 min/day, 5 days/week for 4 weeks. At the end of exercise training, we examined and compared their cardiorespiratory capacity, behavior, and neurochemical changes with that of the probenecid-treated control and sedentary Parkinsonian mice. We found that the resting heart rate after 4 weeks of exercise in the chronic Parkinsonian mice was significantly lower than the rate before exercise, whereas the resting heart rate at the beginning and 4 weeks afterwards in the control or sedentary Parkinsonian mice were unchanged. Exercised Parkinsonian mice also recovered from elevated electrocardiogram R-wave amplitude that was detected in the Parkinsonian mice without exercise for 4 weeks. The values of oxygen consumption, carbon dioxide production, and body heat generation in the exercised Parkinsonian mice before and during the Bruce maximal exercise challenge test were all significantly lower than their sedentary counterparts. Furthermore, the exercised Parkinsonian mice revealed a greater mass in the left ventricle of the heart and an increased level of citrate synthase activity in the skeletal muscles. The amphetamine-induced, dopamine release-dependent locomotor activity was markedly inhibited in the sedentary Parkinsonian mice, and remained to be inhibited in the exercised Parkinsonian mice. Finally, neuronal recovery from the loss of nigrostriatal tyrosine hydroxylase expression and dopamine levels in the severe parkinsonian mice after exercise was not evident. Taken all together, these data suggest that 4 weeks of treadmill exercise promoted physical endurance resulting in cardiorespiratory and metabolic adaptations in the chronic Parkinsonian mice with severe neurodegeneration without demonstrating a restorative potential for the nigrostriatal dopaminergic function.
doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2007.07.038
PMCID: PMC2099399  PMID: 17869432
electrocardiogram; dopamine; MPTP; Parkinson's disease; probenecid; rodent treadmill
17.  Deficiency in AMPK attenuates ethanol-induced cardiac contractile dysfunction through inhibition of autophagosome formation 
Cardiovascular Research  2012;94(3):480-491.
Aims
Binge drinking often triggers compromised myocardial contractile function while activating AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). Given the role of AMPK in the initiation of autophagy through the mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) and Unc51-like kinase (ULK1), this study was designed to examine the impact of AMPK deficiency on cardiac function and the mechanism involved with a focus on autophagy following an acute ethanol challenge.
Methods and results
Wild-type (WT) and transgenic mice overexpressing a kinase-dead (KD) α2 isoform (K45R mutation) of AMPK were challenged with ethanol. Glucose tolerance, echocardiography, Langendorff heart and cardiomyocyte contractile function, autophagy, and autophagic signalling including AMPK, acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC), mTOR, the mTORC1-associated protein Raptor, and ULK1 were examined. Ethanol exposure triggered glucose intolerance and compromised cardiac contraction accompanied by increased phosphorylation of AMPK and ACC as well as autophagosome accumulation (increased LC3II and p62), the effects of which were attenuated or mitigated by AMPK deficiency or inhibition. Ethanol dampened and stimulated, respectively, the phosphorylation of mTOR and Raptor, the effects of which were abolished by AMPK deficiency. ULK1 phosphorylation at Ser757 and Ser777 was down-regulated and up-regulated, respectively, by ethanol, the effect of which was nullified by AMPK deficiency or inhibition. Moreover, the ethanol challenge enhanced LC3 puncta in H9c2 cells and promoted cardiac contractile dysfunction, and these effects were ablated by the inhibition of autophagy or AMPK. Lysosomal inhibition failed to accentuate ethanol-induced increases in LC3II and p62.
Conclusion
In summary, these data suggest that ethanol exposure may trigger myocardial dysfunction through a mechanism associated with AMPK-mTORC1-ULK1-mediated autophagy.
doi:10.1093/cvr/cvs127
PMCID: PMC3353804  PMID: 22451512
Ethanol; AMPK deficiency; Autophagy; Cardiac function; ULK1
18.  Exercise Protects against Diet-Induced Insulin Resistance through Downregulation of Protein Kinase Cβ in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e81364.
Physical exercise is an important and effective therapy for diabetes. However, its underlying mechanism is not fully understood. Protein kinase Cβ (PKCβ) has been suggested to be involved in the pathogenesis of obesity and insulin resistance, but the role of PKCβ in exercise-induced improvements in insulin resistance is completely unknown. In this study, we evaluated the involvement of PKCβ in exercise-attenuated insulin resistance in high-fat diet (HFD)-fed mice. PKCβ-/- and wild-type mice were fed a HFD with or without exercise training. PKC protein expression, body and tissue weight change, glucose and insulin tolerance, metabolic rate, mitochondria size and number, adipose inflammation, and AKT activation were determined to evaluate insulin sensitivity and metabolic changes after intervention. PKCβ expression decreased in both skeletal muscle and liver tissue after exercise. Exercise and PKCβ deficiency can alleviate HFD-induced insulin resistance, as evidenced by improved insulin tolerance. In addition, fat accumulation and mitochondrial dysfunction induced by HFD were also ameliorated by both exercise and PKCβ deficiency. On the other hand, exercise had little effect on PKCβ-/- mice. Further, our data indicated improved activation of AKT, the downstream signal molecule of insulin, in skeletal muscle and liver of exercised mice, whereas PKCβ deficiency blunted the difference between sedentary and exercised mice. These results suggest that downregulation of PKCβ contributes to exercise-induced improvement of insulin resistance in HFD-fed mice.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0081364
PMCID: PMC3857188  PMID: 24349059
19.  Viral Bcl-2-Mediated Evasion of Autophagy Aids Chronic Infection of γHerpesvirus 68 
PLoS Pathogens  2009;5(10):e1000609.
γ-herpesviruses (γHVs) have developed an interaction with their hosts wherein they establish a life-long persistent infection and are associated with the onset of various malignancies. One critical virulence factor involved in the persistency of murine γ-herpesvirus 68 (γHV68) is the viral homolog of the Bcl-2 protein (vBcl-2), which has been implicated to counteract both host apoptotic responses and autophagy pathway. However, the relative significance of the two activities of vBcl-2 in viral persistent infection has yet to be elucidated. Here, by characterizing a series of loss-of-function mutants of vBcl-2, we have distinguished the vBcl-2-mediated antagonism of autophagy from the vBcl-2-mediated inhibition of apoptosis in vitro and in vivo. A mutant γHV68 virus lacking the anti-autophagic activity of vBcl-2 demonstrates an impaired ability to maintain chronic infections in mice, whereas a mutant virus lacking the anti-apoptotic activity of vBcl-2 establishes chronic infections as efficiently as the wild-type virus but displays a compromised ability for ex vivo reactivation. Thus, the vBcl-2-mediated antagonism of host autophagy constitutes a novel mechanism by which γHVs confer persistent infections, further underscoring the importance of autophagy as a critical host determinant in the in vivo latency of γ-herpesviruses.
Author Summary
Autophagy (‘self-eating’, lysosome-dependent degradation and recycling of the intracellular components in response to stress) and apoptosis (‘self-killing’, cells commit suicide in response to stress) are important host defense mechanisms against viral infections. γ-herpesvirus 68 (γHV68) encodes a Bcl-2 family protein, vBcl-2, that effectively antagonizes both autophagy and apoptosis and is required for chronic viral infection and pathogenesis. However, the relative contributions of the vBcl-2-mediated evasion of autophagy and apoptosis to γHV68 persistent infection remain largely unknown. Here, we characterized a series of vBcl-2 mutants to genetically and functionally distinguish these closely related activities of vBcl-2 in vitro and in vivo. We have found that the inhibition of autophagy by vBcl-2 is important for maintaining latent infections, while the anti-apoptotic activity of vBcl-2 is largely involved in efficient viral reactivation from latency. Our findings thus reveal a novel paradigm for the vBcl-2-mediated evasion of autophagy and apoptosis during chronic viral infection, identifying a vital role for autophagy in controlling γHV68 latent infection.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1000609
PMCID: PMC2752191  PMID: 19816569
20.  ARF, autophagy and tumor suppression 
Autophagy  2009;5(3):397-399.
Autophagy plays a critical role in the initiation and progression of tumors. The exact nature of this role, however, is complex. Autophagy is suppressive to tumor initiation, and reduces genomic instability. Genes with key roles in autophagy are mutated in human cancer, and knock-out mice for certain autophagy genes are predisposed to cancer. Conversely, established tumors appear to utilize autophagy in order to survive periods of metabolic or hypoxic stress. Consistent with this, small molecule inhibitors of autophagy like chloroquine are effective anti-cancer agents for certain tumor types. The consensus appears to be that autophagy suppresses tumor initiation, but promotes the survival of established tumors. But this premise may be over-simplified. Several groups have recently shown that the ARF tumor suppressor can induce autophagy. While some groups have found that ARF-mediated autophagy is cytotoxic to tumor cells, we have shown that ARF’s autophagy function may promote the survival and progression of certain tumors. We have previously shown that silencing ARF limits autophagy and the development of p53-null lymphomas. In this addendum, we show this is not true for primary p53-null sarcoma cells. Rather, ARF-silencing enhances sarcoma development. These data suggest that the survival-benefit of ARF, and possibly also of autophagy, may be restricted to certain tumor types.
PMCID: PMC2667648  PMID: 19221462
p14ARF; mitochondria; tumor suppression; autophagy
21.  Autophagy regulates keratin 8 homeostasis in mammary epithelial cells and in breast tumors 
Molecular cancer research : MCR  2010;8(6):873-884.
Autophagy is activated in response to cellular stressors and mediates lysosomal degradation and recycling of cytoplasmic material and organelles as a temporary cell survival mechanism. Defective autophagy is implicated in human pathology, as disruption of protein and organelle homeostasis enables disease-promoting mechanisms such as toxic protein aggregation, oxidative stress, genomic damage and inflammation. We previously showed that autophagy-defective immortalized mouse mammary epithelial cells (iMMECs) are susceptible to metabolic stress, DNA damage and genomic instability. We now report that autophagy deficiency was associated with ER and oxidative stress, and deregulation of p62-mediated keratin homeostasis in mammary cells and allograft tumors and in mammary tissues from genetically engineered mice. In human breast tumors, high phospho(Ser73)-K8 levels inversely correlated with Beclin 1 expression. Thus, autophagy preserves cellular fitness by limiting ER and oxidative stress, a function potentially important in autophagy-mediated suppression of mammary tumorigenesis. Furthermore, autophagy regulates keratin homeostasis in the mammary gland via a p62-dependent mechanism. High phospho(Ser73)-K8 expression may be a marker of autophagy functional status in breast tumors and, as such, could have therapeutic implications for breast cancer patients.
doi:10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-09-0494
PMCID: PMC2891319  PMID: 20530580
autophagy; keratin homeostasis; breast cancer; ER stress; p62
22.  Regulation of glucose turnover during exercise in pancreatectomized, totally insulin-deficient dogs. Effects of beta-adrenergic blockade. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1988;81(6):1759-1767.
To examine whether glucose metabolic clearance increases and whether catecholamines influence glucose turnover during exercise in total insulin deficiency, 24-h fasted and insulin-deprived pancreatectomized dogs were studied before and during exercise (60 min; 100 m/min; 10% slope) with (n = 8) and without (n = 8) propranolol infusion (PI, 5 micrograms/kg-min). Exercise with or without PI was accompanied by four and fivefold increments in norepinephrine and epinephrine respectively, while glucagon (extrapancreatic) fell slightly. Basal plasma glucose and FFA concentrations and rates of tracer-determined (3[3H]glucose) hepatic glucose production (Ra) and total glucose clearance (including urinary glucose loss) were 459 +/- 24 mg/dl, 1.7 +/- 0.5 mmol/liter, 7.8 +/- 0.9 mg/kg-min and 1.6 +/- 0.1 ml/kg-min, respectively. When corrected for urinary glucose excretion, basal glucose metabolic clearance rate (MCR) was 0.7 +/- 0.1 mg/kg-min and rose twofold (P less than 0.0001) during exercise. Despite lower lactate (3.3 +/- 0.6 vs. 6.6 +/- 1.3 mmol/liter; P less than 0.005) and FFA levels (1.1 +/- 0.2 vs. 2.2 +/- 0.2 mmol/liter; P less than 0.0001) with PI, PI failed to influence MCR during exercise. Ra rose by 3.7 +/- 1.7 mg/kg-min during exercise (P less than 0.02) while with PI the increase was only 1.9 +/- 0.7 mg/kg-min (P less than 0.002). Glucose levels remained unchanged during exercise alone but fell slightly with PI (P less than 0.0001). Therefore, in total insulin deficiency, MCR increases marginally with exercise (13% of normal); the beta adrenergic effects of catecholamines that stimulate both FFA mobilization and muscle glycogenolysis do not regulate muscle glucose uptake. The exercise-induced rise in hepatic glucose production does not require an increase in glucagon levels, but is mediated partially by catecholamines. Present and previous data in normal and alloxan-diabetic dogs, suggest that (a) in total insulin deficiency, control of hepatic glucose production during exercise is shifted from glucagon to catecholamines and that this may involve catecholamine-induced mobilization of peripheral substrates for gluconeogenesis and/or hepatic insensitivity to glucagon, and (b) insulin is not essential for a small exercise-induced increase in muscle glucose uptake, but normal insulin levels are required for the full response. Furthermore, the catecholamines appear to regulate muscle glucose uptake during exercise only when sufficient insulin is available to prevent markedly elevated FFA levels. We speculate that the main role of insulin is not to regulate glucose uptake by the contracting muscle directly, but to restrain lipolysis and thereby also FFA oxidation in the muscle.
PMCID: PMC442622  PMID: 3290252
23.  Physical exercise stimulates autophagy in normal skeletal muscles but is detrimental for collagen VI-deficient muscles 
Autophagy  2011;7(12):1415-1423.
Autophagy is a catabolic process that provides the degradation of altered/damaged organelles through the fusion between autophagosomes and lysosomes. Proper regulation of the autophagic flux is fundamental for the homeostasis of skeletal muscles in physiological conditions and in response to stress. Defective as well as excessive autophagy is detrimental for muscle health and has a pathogenic role in several forms of muscle diseases. Recently, we found that defective activation of the autophagic machinery plays a key role in the pathogenesis of muscular dystrophies linked to collagen VI. Impairment of the autophagic flux in collagen VI null (Col6a1–/–) mice causes accumulation of dysfunctional mitochondria and altered sarcoplasmic reticulum, leading to apoptosis and degeneration of muscle fibers. Here we show that physical exercise activates autophagy in skeletal muscles. Notably, physical training exacerbated the dystrophic phenotype of Col6a1–/– mice, where autophagy flux is compromised. Autophagy was not induced in Col6a1–/– muscles after either acute or prolonged exercise, and this led to a marked increase of muscle wasting and apoptosis. These findings indicate that proper activation of autophagy is important for muscle homeostasis during physical activity.
doi:10.4161/auto.7.12.17877
PMCID: PMC3288016  PMID: 22024752
autophagy; muscle; muscular dystrophy; mouse model; collagen VI
24.  Skeletal muscle alterations and exercise performance decrease in erythropoietin-deficient mice: a comparative study 
BMC Medical Genomics  2012;5:29.
Background
Erythropoietin (EPO) is known to improve exercise performance by increasing oxygen blood transport and thus inducing a higher maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max). Furthermore, treatment with (or overexpression of) EPO induces protective effects in several tissues, including the myocardium. However, it is not known whether EPO exerts this protective effect when present at physiological levels. Given that EPO receptors have been identified in skeletal muscle, we hypothesized that EPO may have a direct, protective effect on this tissue. Thus, the objectives of the present study were to confirm a decrease in exercise performance and highlight muscle transcriptome alterations in a murine EPO functional knock-out model (the EPO-d mouse).
Methods
We determined VO2max peak velocity and critical speed in exhaustive runs in 17 mice (9 EPO-d animals and 8 inbred controls), using treadmill enclosed in a metabolic chamber. Mice were sacrificed 24h after a last exhaustive treadmill exercise at critical speed. The tibialis anterior and soleus muscles were removed and total RNA was extracted for microarray gene expression analysis.
Results
The EPO-d mice’s hematocrit was about 50% lower than that of controls (p < 0.05) and their performance level was about 25% lower (p < 0.001). A total of 1583 genes exhibited significant changes in their expression levels. However, 68 genes were strongly up-regulated (normalized ratio > 1.4) and 115 were strongly down-regulated (normalized ratio < 0.80). The transcriptome data mining analysis showed that the exercise in the EPO-d mice induced muscle hypoxia, oxidative stress and proteolysis associated with energy pathway disruptions in glycolysis and mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation.
Conclusions
Our results showed that the lack of functional EPO induced a decrease in the aerobic exercise capacity. This decrease was correlated with the hematocrit and reflecting poor oxygen supply to the muscles. The observed alterations in the muscle transcriptome suggest that physiological concentrations of EPO exert both direct and indirect muscle-protecting effects during exercise. However, the signaling pathway involved in these protective effects remains to be described in detail.
doi:10.1186/1755-8794-5-29
PMCID: PMC3473259  PMID: 22748015
Erythropoietin; Exercise; Skeletal muscle
25.  Autophagy in Myf5+ progenitors regulates energy and glucose homeostasis through control of brown fat and skeletal muscle development 
EMBO Reports  2013;14(9):795-803.
Autophagy in Myf5+ progenitors regulates energy and glucose homeostasis through control of brown fat and skeletal muscle development
Atg7 deletion in Myf5+ progenitors blocks autophagy in brown adipose tissue and muscle, affecting their differentiation and function. Knockout mice have higher body temperatures and glucose intolerance, underscoring the importance of autophagy in these processes.
Macroautophagy (MA) regulates cellular quality control and energy balance. For example, loss of MA in aP2-positive adipocytes converts white adipose tissue (WAT) into brown adipose tissue (BAT)-like, enhancing BAT function and thereby insulin sensitivity. However, whether MA regulates early BAT development is unknown. We report that deleting Atg7 in myogenic Myf5+ progenitors inhibits MA in Myf5-cell-derived BAT and muscle. Knock out (KO) mice have defective BAT differentiation and function. Surprisingly, their body temperature is higher due to WAT lipolysis-driven increases in fatty acid oxidation in ‘Beige' cells in inguinal WAT, BAT and muscle. KO mice also present impaired muscle differentiation, reduced muscle mass and glucose intolerance. Our studies show that ATG7 in Myf5+ progenitors is required to maintain energy and glucose homeostasis through effects on BAT and muscle development. Decreased MA in myogenic progenitors with age and/or overnutrition might contribute to the metabolic defects and sarcopenia observed in these conditions.
doi:10.1038/embor.2013.111
PMCID: PMC3790054  PMID: 23907538
Autophagy; Myf5+ progenitors; brown fat

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