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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
The role of autophagy, a catabolic lysosome-dependent pathway, has recently been recognized in a variety of disorders, including Pompe disease, the genetic deficiency of the glycogen-degrading lysosomal enzyme acid-alpha glucosidase. Accumulation of lysosomal glycogen, presumably transported from the cytoplasm by the autophagic pathway, occurs in multiple tissues, but pathology is most severe in skeletal and cardiac muscle. Skeletal muscle pathology also involves massive autophagic buildup in the core of myofibers. To determine if glycogen reaches the lysosome via autophagy and to ascertain whether autophagic buildup in Pompe disease is a consequence of induction of autophagy and/or reduced turnover due to defective fusion with lysosomes, we generated muscle-specific autophagy-deficient Pompe mice. We have demonstrated that autophagy is not required for glycogen transport to lysosomes in skeletal muscle. We have also found that Pompe disease involves induction of autophagy but manifests as a functional deficiency of autophagy because of impaired autophagosomal–lysosomal fusion. As a result, autophagic substrates, including potentially toxic aggregate-prone ubiquitinated proteins, accumulate in Pompe myofibers and may cause profound muscle damage.
The pathogenesis of sepsis is complex and, unfortunately, poorly understood. The cellular process of autophagy is believed to play a protective role in sepsis; however, the mechanisms responsible for its regulation in this setting are ill defined. In the present study, interferon regulatory factor 1 (IRF-1) was found to regulate the autophagic response in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated macrophages. In vivo, tissue macrophages obtained from LPS-stimulated IRF-1 knockout (KO) mice demonstrated increased autophagy and decreased apoptosis compared to those isolated from IRF-1 wild-type (WT) mice. In vitro, LPS-stimulated peritoneal macrophages obtained from IRF-1 KO mice experienced increased autophagy and decreased apoptosis. IRF-1 mediates the inhibition of autophagy by modulating the activation of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). LPS induced the activation of mTOR in WT peritoneal macrophages, but not in IRF-1 KO macrophages. In contrast, overexpression of IRF-1 alone increased the activation of mTOR and consequently decreased autophagic flux. Furthermore, the inhibitory effects of IRF-1 mTOR activity were mediated by nitric oxide (NO). Therefore, we propose a novel role for IRF-1 and NO in the regulation of macrophage autophagy during LPS stimulation in which IRF-1/NO inhibits autophagy through mTOR activation.
Altered protein homeostasis underlies degenerative diseases triggered by misfolded proteins, including spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA), a neuromuscular disorder caused by a CAG/glutamine expansion in the androgen receptor. Here we show that the unfolded protein response (UPR), an ER protein quality control pathway, is induced in skeletal muscle from SBMA patients, AR113Q knock-in male mice, and surgically denervated wild-type mice. To probe the consequence of UPR induction, we deleted CHOP (C/EBP homologous protein), a transcription factor induced following ER stress. CHOP deficiency accentuated atrophy in both AR113Q and surgically denervated muscle through activation of macroautophagy, a lysosomal protein quality control pathway. Conversely, impaired autophagy due to Beclin-1 haploinsufficiency decreased muscle wasting and extended lifespan of AR113Q males, producing a significant and unexpected amelioration of the disease phenotype. Our findings highlight critical cross-talk between the UPR and macroautophagy, and they indicate that autophagy activation accentuates aspects of the SBMA phenotype.
In many age-dependent neurodegenerative diseases, the accumulation of misfolded or mutant proteins drives pathogenesis. Several protein quality control pathways have emerged as central regulators of the turnover of these toxic proteins and therefore impact phenotypic severity. In spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA), the mutant androgen receptor with an expanded glutamine tract undergoes hormone-dependent nuclear translocation, unfolding, and oligomerization—steps that are critical to the development of progressive proximal limb and bulbar muscle weakness in men. Here we show that the unfolded protein response (UPR), an endoplasmic reticulum stress response, is triggered in skeletal muscle from SBMA patients and knock-in mice. We find that disruption of the UPR exacerbates skeletal muscle atrophy through the induction of macroautophagy, a lysosomal protein quality pathway. In contrast, impaired autophagy diminishes muscle wasting and prolongs lifespan of SBMA mice. Our findings highlight cross-talk between the UPR and autophagy, and they suggest that limited activation of the autophagic pathway may be beneficial in certain neuromuscular diseases such as SBMA where the nucleus is the essential site of toxicity.
The anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 protein, which confers oncogenic transformation and drug resistance in most human cancers, including breast cancer, has recently been shown to effectively counteract autophagy by directly targeting Beclin1, an essential autophagy mediator and tumor suppressor. However, it remains unknown whether autophagy inhibition contributes to Bcl-2-mediated oncogenesis. Here, by using a loss-of-function mutagenesis study, we show that Bcl-2-mediated antagonism of autophagy plays a critical role in enhancing the tumorigenic properties of MCF7 breast cancer cells independent of its anti-apoptosis activity. A Bcl-2 mutant defective in apoptosis inhibition but competent for autophagy suppression promotes MCF7 breast cancer cell growth in vitro and in vivo as efficiently as wild-type Bcl-2. The growth-promoting activity of this Bcl-2 mutant is strongly correlated with its suppression of Beclin1-dependent autophagy, leading to sustained p62 expression and increased DNA damage in xenograft tumors, which may directly contribute to tumorigenesis. Thus, the anti-autophagic property of Bcl-2 is a key feature of Bcl-2-mediated oncogenesis and may in some contexts, serve as an attractive target for breast and other cancer therapies.
Bcl-2; autophagy; apoptosis; MCF7; Tumorigenesis
The anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 protein, which confers oncogenic transformation and drug resistance in most human cancers, including breast cancer, has recently been shown to effectively counteract autophagy by directly targeting Beclin1, an essential autophagy mediator and tumor suppressor. However, it remains unknown whether autophagy inhibition contributes to Bcl-2-mediated oncogenesis. Here, by using a loss-of-function mutagenesis study, we show that Bcl-2-mediated antagonism of autophagy has a critical role in enhancing the tumorigenic properties of MCF7 breast cancer cells independent of its anti-apoptosis activity. A Bcl-2 mutant defective in apoptosis inhibition but competent for autophagy suppression promotes MCF7 breast cancer cell growth in vitro and in vivo as efficiently as wild-type Bcl-2. The growth-promoting activity of this Bcl-2 mutant is strongly correlated with its suppression of Beclin1-dependent autophagy, leading to sustained p62 expression and increased DNA damage in xenograft tumors, which may directly contribute to tumorigenesis. Thus, the anti-autophagic property of Bcl-2 is a key feature of Bcl-2-mediated oncogenesis and may in some contexts, serve as an attractive target for breast and other cancer therapies.
Bcl-2; autophagy; apoptosis; MCF7; tumorigenesis