Accumulating evidence suggests that Bcl-xL, an anti-apoptotic member of the Bcl-2 family, also functions in cell cycle progression and cell cycle checkpoints. Analysis of a series of phosphorylation site mutants reveals that cells expressing Bcl-xL(Ser62Ala) mutant are less stable at the G2 checkpoint and enter mitosis more rapidly than cells expressing wild-type Bcl-xL or Bcl-xL phosphorylation site mutants, including Thr41Ala, Ser43Ala, Thr47Ala, Ser56Ala and Thr115Ala. Analysis of the dynamic phosphorylation and location of phospho-Bcl-xL(Ser62) in unperturbed, synchronized cells and during DNA damage-induced G2 arrest discloses that a pool of phospho-Bcl-xL(Ser62) accumulates into nucleolar structures in etoposide-exposed cells during G2 arrest. In a series of in vitro kinase assays, pharmacological inhibitors and specific siRNAs experiments, we found that Polo kinase 1 and MAPK9/JNK2 are major protein kinases involved in Bcl-xL(Ser62) phosphorylation and accumulation into nucleolar structures during the G2 checkpoint. In nucleoli, phospho-Bcl-xL(Ser62) binds to and co-localizes with Cdk1(cdc2), the key cyclin-dependent kinase required for entry into mitosis. These data indicate that during G2 checkpoint, phospho-Bcl-xL(Ser62) stabilizes G2 arrest by timely trapping of Cdk1(cdc2) in nucleolar structures to slow mitotic entry. It also highlights that DNA damage affects the dynamic composition of the nucleolus, which now emerges as a piece of the DNA damage response.
Bcl-xL; cdk1(cdc2); cell cycle checkpoint; DNA damage; nucleolus
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.
Fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) plays an important role in the regulation of energy homeostasis during starvation and has an excellent therapeutic potential for the treatment of type 2 diabetes in rodents and monkeys. Acute exercise affects glucose and lipid metabolism by increasing glucose uptake and lipolysis. However, it is not known whether acute exercise affects FGF21 expression. Here, we showed that serum FGF21 level is increased in mice after a single bout of acute exercise, and that this is accompanied by increased serum levels of free fatty acid, glycerol and ketone body. FGF21 gene expression was induced in the liver but not in skeletal muscle and white adipose tissue of mice after acute exercise, and further, the gene expression levels of hepatic peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor α (PPARα) and activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4) were also increased. In addition, we observed increased FGF21 level in serum of healthy male volunteers performing a treadmill run at 50 or 80% VO2max. These results suggest that FGF21 may also be associated with exercise-induced lipolysis in addition to increased catecholamines and reduced insulin.
OBJECTIVE—Insulin resistance in skeletal muscle plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes, yet the cellular mechanisms responsible for insulin resistance are poorly understood. In this study, we examine the role of serine phosphorylation of insulin receptor substrate (IRS)-1 in mediating fat-induced insulin resistance in skeletal muscle in vivo.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—To directly assess the role of serine phosphorylation in mediating fat-induced insulin resistance in skeletal muscle, we generated muscle-specific IRS-1 Ser302, Ser307, and Ser612 mutated to alanine (Tg IRS-1 Ser→Ala) and IRS-1 wild-type (Tg IRS-1 WT) transgenic mice and examined insulin signaling and insulin action in skeletal muscle in vivo.
RESULTS—Tg IRS-1 Ser→Ala mice were protected from fat-induced insulin resistance, as reflected by lower plasma glucose concentrations during a glucose tolerance test and increased insulin-stimulated muscle glucose uptake during a hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp. In contrast, Tg IRS-1 WT mice exhibited no improvement in glucose tolerance after high-fat feeding. Furthermore, Tg IRS-1 Ser→Ala mice displayed a significant increase in insulin-stimulated IRS-1–associated phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase activity and Akt phosphorylation in skeletal muscle in vivo compared with WT control littermates.
CONCLUSIONS—These data demonstrate that serine phosphorylation of IRS-1 plays an important role in mediating fat-induced insulin resistance in skeletal muscle in vivo.
Both anabolism and catabolism of the amino acids released by starvation-induced autophagy are essential for cell survival, but their actual metabolic contributions in adult animals are poorly understood. Herein, we report that, in mice, liver autophagy makes a significant contribution to the maintenance of blood glucose by converting amino acids to glucose via gluconeogenesis. Under a synchronous fasting-initiation regimen, autophagy was induced concomitantly with a fall in plasma insulin in the presence of stable glucagon levels, resulting in a robust amino acid release. In liver-specific autophagy (Atg7)-deficient mice, no amino acid release occurred and blood glucose levels continued to decrease in contrast to those of wild-type mice. Administration of serine (30 mg/animal) exerted a comparable effect, raising the blood glucose levels in both control wild-type and mutant mice under starvation. Thus, the absence of the amino acids that were released by autophagic proteolysis is a major reason for a decrease in blood glucose. Autophagic amino acid release in control wild-type livers was significantly suppressed by the prior administration of glucose, which elicited a prompt increase in plasma insulin levels. This indicates that insulin plays a dominant role over glucagon in controlling liver autophagy. These results are the first to show that liver-specific autophagy plays a role in blood glucose regulation.
amino acid; autophagy; liver; gluconeogenesis; insulin; phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase
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.
Skeletal muscle fibers of collagen VI null (Col6a1−/−) mice show signs of degeneration due to a block in autophagy, leading to the accumulation of damaged mitochondria and excessive apoptosis. Attempts to induce autophagic flux by subjecting these mutant mice to long-term or shorter bursts of physical activity are unsuccessful (see Grumati, et al., pp. 1415–23). In normal mice, the induction of autophagy in the skeletal muscles post-exercise is able to prevent the accumulation of damaged organelles and maintain cellular homeostasis. Thus, these studies provide an important connection between autophagy and exercise physiology.
lysosome; metabolism; physiology; stress; vacuole
When no supply of environmental nutrients is available, cells induce autophagy, thereby generating a source of emergency metabolic substrates and energy to maintain the basal cellular activity needed for survival. This autophagy response to starvation has been well characterized in various multicellular organisms, including worms, flies and mice. Although prosurvival effects of autophagy in response to starvation are well known in animals, the mechanisms by which animals regulate and coordinate autophagy systemically remain elusive. Using C. elegans as a model system, we found that specific amino acids could regulate starvation-induced autophagy, and that MGL-1 and MGL-2, Caenorhabditis elegans homologs of metabotropic glutamate receptors, were involved. MGL-1 and MGL-2 specifically acted in AIY and AIB neurons, respectively, to modulate the autophagy response in other tissues such as pharyngeal muscle. Our recent study suggests that the autophagy response to starvation, previously thought to be cell-autonomous, can be systemically regulated, and that there is a specific sensor for monitoring systemic amino acids levels in Caenorhabditis elegans.
autophagy; starvation; metabotropic glutamate receptor; amino acid response; Caenorhabditis elegans; hormesis
Exercise is an effective intervention to treat fatty liver. However, the mechanism(s) that underlie exercise-induced reductions in fatty liver are unclear. Here we tested the hypothesis that exercise requires hepatic glucagon action to reduce fatty liver.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
C57BL/6 mice were fed high-fat diet (HFD) and assessed using magnetic resonance, biochemical, and histological techniques to establish a timeline for fatty liver development over 20 weeks. Glucagon receptor null (gcgr−/−) and wild-type (gcgr+/+) littermate mice were subsequently fed HFD to provoke moderate fatty liver and then performed either 10 or 6 weeks of running wheel or treadmill exercise, respectively.
Exercise reverses progression of HFD-induced fatty liver in gcgr+/+ mice. Remarkably, such changes are absent in gcgr−/− mice, thus confirming the hypothesis that exercise-stimulated hepatic glucagon receptor activation is critical to reduce HFD-induced fatty liver.
These findings suggest that therapies that use antagonism of hepatic glucagon action to reduce blood glucose may interfere with the ability of exercise and perhaps other interventions to positively affect fatty liver.
Autophagy is induced in renal tubular cells during acute kidney injury, however, whether this is protective or injurious remains controversial. We address this question by pharmacologic and genetic blockade of autophagy using mouse models of cisplatin- and ischemia-reperfusion induced acute kidney injury. Chloroquine, a pharmacological inhibitor of autophagy, blocked autophagic flux and enhanced acute kidney injury in both models. Rapamycin, however, activated autophagy and protected against cisplatin-induced acute kidney injury. We also established a renal proximal tubule-specific autophagy-related gene 7 knockout mouse model shown to be defective in both basal and cisplatin induced autophagy in kidneys. Compared with wild-type littermates, these knockout mice were markedly more sensitive to cisplatin-induced acute kidney injury as indicated by renal functional loss, tissue damage, and apoptosis. Mechanistically, these knockout mice had heightened activation of p53 and c-Jun N terminal kinase, signaling pathways contributing to cisplatin acute kidney injury. Proximal tubular cells isolated from the knockout mice were more sensitive to cisplatin-induced apoptosis than cells from wild-type mice. In addition, the knockout mice were more sensitive to renal ischemia-reperfusion injury than their wild-type littermates. Thus, our results establish a renoprotective role of tubular cell autophagy in acute kidney injury where it may interfere with cell killing mechanisms.
autophagy; Atg7; cisplatin; ischemia-reperfusion; acute kidney injury
Skeletal muscle AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK)α2 activity is impaired in obese, insulin resistant individuals during exercise. We determined whether this defect contributes to the metabolic dysregulation and reduced exercise capacity observed in the obese state.
C57BL/6J wild-type (WT) mice and/or mice expressing a kinase dead AMPKα2 subunit in skeletal muscle (α2-KD) were fed chow or high fat (HF) diets from 3–16 weeks (wks) of age. At 15wks mice performed an exercise stress test to determine exercise capacity. In WT mice, muscle glucose uptake and skeletal muscle AMPKα2 activity was assessed in chronically catheterized mice (carotid artery/jugular vein) at 16wks. In a separate study, HF-fed WT and α2-KD mice performed 5wks of exercise training (from 15–20wks of age) to test whether AMPKα2 is necessary to restore work tolerance.
HF-fed WT mice had reduced exercise tolerance during an exercise stress test, and an attenuation in muscle glucose uptake and AMPKα2 activity during a single bout of exercise (p<0.05 vs. chow). In chow-fed α2-KD mice running speed and time were impaired ~45% and ~55%, respectively (p<0.05 vs. WT chow); HF feeding further reduced running time ~25% (p<0.05 vs. α2-KD chow). In response to 5wks of exercise training, HF-fed WT and α2-KD mice increased maximum running speed ~35% (p<0.05 vs. pre-training) and maintained body weight at pre-training levels, whereas body weight increased in untrained HF WT and α2-KD mice. Exercise training restored running speed to levels seen in healthy, chow-fed mice.
HF feeding impairs AMPKα2 activity in skeletal muscle during exercise in vivo. While this defect directly contributes to reduced exercise capacity, findings in HF-fed α2-KD mice show that AMPKα2-independent mechanisms are also involved. Importantly, α2-KD mice on a HF-fed diet adapt to regular exercise by increasing exercise tolerance, demonstrating that this adaptation is independent of skeletal muscle AMPKα2 activity.
obesity; muscle glucose uptake; exercise tolerance; exercise training; diet
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.
Autophagy; diabetes; muscle atrophy; swimming exercise; prophylactic effect
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.
p14ARF; mitochondria; tumor suppression; autophagy
The purpose of this study was to investigate whether toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) is implicated in the development of endoplasmic reticulum stress (ER stress) observed after a high-fat diet (HFD) in liver, skeletal muscle and adipose tissue. TLR4−/− and C57BL/6J wild-type mice (WT) were fed with chow or HFD (45% calories from fat) during 18 weeks. An oral glucose tolerance-test was performed. The animals were sacrificed in a fasted state and the tissues were removed. TLR4 deletion protected from body weight gain and glucose intolerance induced by HFD whereas energy intake was higher in transgenic mice suggesting larger energy expenditure. HFD induced an ER stress in skeletal muscle, liver and adipose tissue of WT mice as assessed by BiP, CHOP, spliced and unspliced XBP1 and phospho-eIF2α. TLR4−/− mice were protected against HFD-induced ER stress. Then, we investigated the main signaling downstream of TLR4 namely the NF-κB pathway, expecting to identify the mechanism by which TLR4 is able to activate ER stress. The mRNA levels of cytokines regulated by NF-κB namely TNFα, IL-1β and IL-6, were not changed after HFD and phospho-IκB-α (ser 32) was not changed. Our results indicate that TLR4 is essential for the development of ER stress related to HFD. Nevertheless, the NFκ-B pathway does not seem to be directly implicated. The reduced fat storage in TLR4−/− mice could explain the absence of an ER stress after HFD.
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
Diabetes has negative, and exercise training positive, effects on the skeletal muscle vasculature, but the mechanisms are not yet fully understood. In the present experiment the effects of running exercise on the mRNA expression of pro- and antiangiogenic factors were studied in healthy and diabetic skeletal muscle. The responses in capillaries and muscle fibers, collected from the muscle with laser capture microdissection, were also studied separately.
Healthy and streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice were divided into sedentary and exercise groups. Exercise was a single bout of 1 h running on a treadmill. Gastrocnemius muscles were harvested 3 h and 6 h post exercise, and angiogenesis-related gene expressions were analyzed with real-time PCR. In addition to muscle homogenates, capillaries and muscle fibers were collected from the muscle with laser capture microdissection method and analyzed for vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A) and thrombospondin-1 (TSP-1) mRNA expression.
Of the proangiogenic factors, VEGF-A and VEGF receptor-2 (VEGFR-2) mRNA expression increased significantly (P < 0.05) in healthy skeletal muscle 6 h post exercise. VEGF-B also showed a similar trend (P = 0.08). No significant change was observed post exercise in diabetic muscles in the expression of VEGF-A, VEGFR-2 or VEGF-B. The expression of angiogenesis inhibitor TSP-1 and angiogenic extracellular matrix protein Cyr61 were significantly increased in diabetic muscles (P < 0.05–0.01). Capillary mRNA expression resembled that in the muscle homogenates, however, the responses were greater in capillaries compared to muscle homogenates and pure muscle fibers.
The present study is the first to report the effects of a single bout of exercise on the expression of pro- and antiangiogenic factors in diabetic skeletal muscle, and it provides novel data about the separate responses in capillaries and muscle fibers to exercise and diabetes. Diabetic mice seem to have lower angiogenic responses to exercise compared to healthy mice, and they show markedly increased expression of angiogenesis inhibitor TSP-1. Furthermore, exercise-induced VEGF-A expression was shown to be greater in capillaries than in muscle fibers.
Oncoprotein 18 (Op18) is a microtubule-destabilizing protein that is negatively regulated by phosphorylation. To evaluate the role of the three Op18 phosphorylation sites in Xenopus (Ser 16, 25, and 39), we added wild-type Op18, a nonphosphorylatable triple Ser to Ala mutant (Op18-AAA), and to mimic phosphorylation, a triple Ser to Glu mutant (Op18-EEE) to egg extracts and monitored spindle assembly. Op18-AAA dramatically decreased microtubule length and density, while Op18-EEE did not significantly affect spindle microtubules. Affinity chromatography with these proteins revealed that the microtubule-destabilizing activity correlated with the ability of Op18 to bind tubulin. Since hyperphosphorylation of Op18 is observed upon addition of mitotic chromatin to extracts, we reasoned that chromatin-associated proteins might play a role in Op18 regulation. We have performed a preliminary characterization of the chromatin proteins recruited to DNA beads, and identified the Xenopus polo-like kinase Plx1 as a chromatin-associated kinase that regulates Op18 phosphorylation. Depletion of Plx1 inhibits chromatin-induced Op18 hyperphosphorylation and spindle assembly in extracts. Therefore, Plx1 may promote microtubule stabilization and spindle assembly by inhibiting Op18.
microtubule dynamics; spindle assembly; phosphorylation; Plx1; chromatin
HMGB1 displaces Bcl-2 from Beclin1 to induce and sustain autophagy in response to cell stress.
Autophagy clears long-lived proteins and dysfunctional organelles and generates substrates for adenosine triphosphate production during periods of starvation and other types of cellular stress. Here we show that high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1), a chromatin-associated nuclear protein and extracellular damage-associated molecular pattern molecule, is a critical regulator of autophagy. Stimuli that enhance reactive oxygen species promote cytosolic translocation of HMGB1 and thereby enhance autophagic flux. HMGB1 directly interacts with the autophagy protein Beclin1 displacing Bcl-2. Mutation of cysteine 106 (C106), but not the vicinal C23 and C45, of HMGB1 promotes cytosolic localization and sustained autophagy. Pharmacological inhibition of HMGB1 cytoplasmic translocation by agents such as ethyl pyruvate limits starvation-induced autophagy. Moreover, the intramolecular disulfide bridge (C23/45) of HMGB1 is required for binding to Beclin1 and sustaining autophagy. Thus, endogenous HMGB1 is a critical pro-autophagic protein that enhances cell survival and limits programmed apoptotic cell death.
A resolutive therapy for Duchene muscular dystrophy, a severe degenerative disease of the skeletal muscle, is still lacking. Because autophagy has been shown to be crucial in clearing dysfunctional organelles and in preventing tissue damage, we investigated its pathogenic role and its suitability as a target for new therapeutic interventions in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). Here we demonstrate that autophagy is severely impaired in muscles from patients affected by DMD and mdx mice, a model of the disease, with accumulation of damaged organelles. The defect in autophagy was accompanied by persistent activation via phosphorylation of Akt, mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and of the autophagy-inhibiting pathways dependent on them, including the translation-initiation factor 4E-binding protein 1 and the ribosomal protein S6, and downregulation of the autophagy-inducing genes LC3, Atg12, Gabarapl1 and Bnip3. The defective autophagy was rescued in mdx mice by long-term exposure to a low-protein diet. The treatment led to normalisation of Akt and mTOR signalling; it also reduced significantly muscle inflammation, fibrosis and myofibre damage, leading to recovery of muscle function. This study highlights novel pathogenic aspects of DMD and suggests autophagy as a new effective therapeutic target. The treatment we propose can be safely applied and immediately tested for efficacy in humans.
autophagy; Duchenne muscular dystrophy; therapy
Obesity is a direct result of the accumulation of white adipose tissue (WAT). In this study, the role of autophagy in the differentiation of white adipose tissue was studied by deleting the autophagy-related 7 (atg7) gene from adipose tissue in mice. This deletion results in a striking phenotype at the cellular, tissue and whole-organism levels. Adipose tissue deposits in the mutant mice are much smaller in mass than those observed in their wild-type counterparts, and mutant adipocytes exhibit unusual morphological characteristics including multilocular lipid droplets and greatly increased numbers of mitochondria. The knockout mice are noticeably slimmer than their wild-type littermates, despite parity in food and water consumption. The mutant mice also exhibit higher basal physical activity levels and an array of metabolic changes revealed through blood tests. Most importantly, these mice show resistance to high-fat diet-induced obesity and markedly increased sensitivity to insulin. These findings establish a new function for autophagy and provide a new model system for use in the search for treatments for obesity and type II diabetes.
atg7; adipose; knockout; obesity; diabetes
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
The essential autophagy protein and haplo-insufficient tumor suppressor, Beclin 1, interacts with several cofactors (Ambra1, Bif-1, UVRAG) to activate the lipid kinase Vps34, thereby inducing autophagy. In normal conditions, Beclin 1 is bound to and inhibited by Bcl-2 or the Bcl-2 homolog Bcl-XL. This interaction involves a Bcl-2 homology 3 (BH3) domain in Beclin 1 and the BH3 binding groove of Bcl-2/Bcl-XL. Other proteins containing BH3 domains, called BH3-only proteins, can competitively disrupt the interaction between Beclin 1 and Bcl-2/Bcl-XL to induce autophagy. Nutrient starvation, which is a potent physiologic inducer of autophagy, can stimulate the dissociation of Beclin 1 from its inhibitors, either by activating BH3-only proteins (such as Bad) or by posttranslational modifications of Bcl-2 (such as phosphorylation) that may reduce its affinity for Beclin 1 and BH3-only proteins. Thus, anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family members and pro-apoptotic BH3-only proteins may participate in the inhibition and induction of autophagy, respectively. This hitherto neglected crosstalk between the core machineries regulating autophagy and apoptosis may redefine the role of Bcl-2 family proteins in oncogenesis and tumor progression.
Bcl-2; Bcl-xL; BH3-only proteins; Beclin 1; autophagy; apoptosis
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.
autophagy; muscle; muscular dystrophy; mouse model; collagen VI
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.
Exercise confers numerous health benefits, many of which are thought to stem from exercise-induced mitochondrial biogenesis (EIMB) in skeletal muscle. The transcriptional coactivator PGC-1α, a potent regulator of metabolism in numerous tissues, is widely believed to be required for EIMB. We show here that this is not the case. Mice engineered to lack PGC-1α specifically in skeletal muscle (Myo-PGC-1αKO mice) retained intact EIMB. The exercise capacity of these mice was comparable to littermate controls. Induction of metabolic genes after 2 weeks of in-cage voluntary wheel running was intact. Electron microscopy revealed no gross abnormalities in mitochondria, and the mitochondrial biogenic response to endurance exercise was as robust in Myo-PGC-1αKO mice as in wildtype mice. The induction of enzymatic activity of the electron transport chain by exercise was likewise unperturbed in Myo-PGC-1αKO mice. These data demonstrate that PGC-1α is dispensable for exercise-induced mitochondrial biogenesis in skeletal muscle, in sharp contrast to the prevalent assumption in the field.