The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is associated with various lymphoproliferative disorders and lymphomas. We have previously demonstrated that treating wild-type TP53-expressing B cell lines with the TP53 pathway activator nutlin-3 induced apoptosis in EBV-negative and EBV-positive latency I cells whereas EBV-positive latency III cells remained much more apoptosis-resistant. Here, we report a constitutively high level of autophagy in these resistant cells which express high levels of the proautophagic protein BECN1/Beclin 1 based, at least in part, on the activation of the NFKB signaling pathway by the viral protein LMP1. Following treatment with nutlin-3, several autophagy-stimulating genes were upregulated both in EBV-negative and EBV-positive latency III cells. However the process of autophagy was only triggered in the latter and was associated with an upregulation of SESN1/sestrin 1 and inhibition of MTOR more rapid than in EBV-negative cells. A treatment with chloroquine, an inhibitor of autophagy, potentiated the apoptotic effect of nutlin-3, particularly in those EBV-positive cells which were resistant to apoptosis induced by nutlin-3 alone, thereby showing that autophagy participates in this resistant phenotype. Finally, using immunohistochemical staining, clinical samples from various B cell lymphoproliferations with the EBV-positive latency II or III phenotype were found to harbor a constitutively active autophagy.
autophagy; BECN1; Burkitt lymphoma; EBV; nulin-3; TP53
A main function of the heart is to pump blood to the tissues and organs of the body. Although formed by different types of cells, the cardiomyocytes are the ones responsible for the coordinated and synchronized heart contraction. Given their low mitotic activity, cardiomyocytes largely depend on protein degradation mechanisms to maintain proteostasis and energetic balance. Autophagy, one of the main pathways whereby cells eliminate damaged, nonfunctional, or obsolete proteins, and organelles, is vital to ensure cell function, including in cardiomyocytes, both in rest and stress conditions. However, the impact of autophagy activation in the heart, being either protective or harmful, is not consensual and likely depends upon the severity of the stimuli and consequently the autophagy players involved. One of the signals that direct proteins for autophagy degradation, namely in the context of heart disorders, is ubiquitin. Indeed, the attachment of ubiquitin moieties to a target substrate and further recognition by autophagy adaptors constitute a main regulatory pathway that directs proteins to the lysosome. Therefore, a better understanding of the mechanisms and signals that regulate the autophagy process in the heart, including substrates targeting, is of utmost importance to design new approaches directed to this degradation pathway. We have previously shown that ubiquitination of the gap junction (GJ) protein Connexin43 (Cx43) triggers its degradation by autophagy through a process that requires the ubiquitin adaptors epidermal growth factor receptor substrate 15 (Eps15) and p62. This is particularly relevant in the heart because GJs, that form intercellular channels, are responsible for the rapid and efficient anisotropic propagation of the electrical impulse through the cardiomyocytes, essential for synchronized contraction of the cardiac muscle. In this review, we present recent studies devoted to the involvement of autophagy in heart homeostasis, with a particular focus on ubiquitin and GJs.
The induction of autophagy usually requires the activation of PIK3C3/VPS34 (phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, catalytic subunit type 3) within a multiprotein complex that contains BECN1 (Beclin 1, autophagy related). PIK3C3 catalyzes the conversion of phosphatidylinositol into phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate (PtdIns3P). PtdIns3P associates with growing phagophores, which recruit components of the autophagic machinery, including the lipidated form of MAP1LC3B/LC3 (microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3 β). Depletion of BECN1, PIK3C3 or some of their interactors suppresses the formation of MAP1LC3B+ phagophores or autophagosomes elicited by most physiological stimuli, including saturated fatty acids. We observed that cis-unsaturated fatty acids stimulate the generation of cytosolic puncta containing lipidated MAP1LC3B as well as the autophagic turnover of long-lived proteins in the absence of PtdIns3P accumulation. In line with this notion, cis-unsaturated fatty acids require neither BECN1 nor PIK3C3 to stimulate the autophagic flux. Such a BECN1-independent autophagic response is phylogenetically conserved, manifesting in yeast, nematodes, mice and human cells. Importantly, MAP1LC3B+ puncta elicited by cis-unsaturated fatty acids colocalize with Golgi apparatus markers. Moreover, the structural and functional collapse of the Golgi apparatus induced by brefeldin A inhibits cis-unsaturated fatty acid-triggered autophagy. It is tempting to speculate that the well-established health-promoting effects of cis-unsaturated fatty acids are linked to their unusual capacity to stimulate noncanonical, BECN1-independent autophagic responses.
Caenorhabditis elegans; noncanonical autophagy; oleate; palmitate; Saccharomyces cerevisiae; stearate
The epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) is an essential process during development and during tumor progression. Here, we observed the accumulation of the selective autophagy receptor and signaling adaptor sequestosome-1 (SQSTM1/p62) during growth factor-induced EMT in immortalized and tumor-derived epithelial cell lines. Modulation of the p62 level regulated the expression of junctional proteins. This effect was dependent on the ubiquitin-associated domain of p62, which stabilized the TGFβ/Smad signaling co-activator Smad4 and the EMT transcription factor Twist. This study highlights a novel function of p62 in a major epithelial phenotypic alteration.
autophagy; smad proteins; snail; twist; ubiquitin; GAPDH, glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase; MDCK, Madin Darby Canine Kidney; NMuMG, Normal Murine Mammary Gland; SQSTM1, Sequestosome 1; TGFβ, Transforming Growth Factor β; IGF-II, insulin growth factor II; EGF, epidermal growth factor
Defects in autophagy have been linked to a wide range of medical illnesses, including cancer as well as infectious, neurodegenerative, inflammatory, and metabolic diseases. These observations have led to the hypothesis that autophagy inducers may prevent or treat certain clinical conditions. Lifestyle and nutritional factors, such as exercise and caloric restriction, may exert their known health benefits through the autophagy pathway. Several currently available FDA-approved drugs have been shown to enhance autophagy, and this autophagy-enhancing action may be repurposed for use in novel clinical indications. The development of new drugs that are designed to be more selective inducers of autophagy function in target organs is expected to maximize clinical benefits while minimizing toxicity. This Review summarizes the rationale and current approaches for developing autophagy inducers in medicine, the factors to be considered in defining disease targets for such therapy, and the potential benefits of such treatment for human health.
Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase-positive Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphomas (ALK+ ALCL) occur predominantly in children and young adults. Their treatment, based on aggressive chemotherapy, is not optimal since ALCL patients can still expect a 30% 2-year relapse rate. Tumor relapses are very aggressive and their underlying mechanisms are unknown. Crizotinib is the most advanced ALK tyrosine kinase inhibitor and is already used in clinics to treat ALK-associated cancers. However, crizotinib escape mechanisms have emerged, thus preventing its use in frontline ALCL therapy. The process of autophagy has been proposed as the next target for elimination of the resistance to tyrosine kinase inhibitors. In this study, we investigated whether autophagy is activated in ALCL cells submitted to ALK inactivation (using crizotinib or ALK-targeting siRNA). Classical autophagy read-outs such as autophagosome visualization/quantification by electron microscopy and LC3-B marker turn-over assays were used to demonstrate autophagy induction and flux activation upon ALK inactivation. This was demonstrated to have a cytoprotective role on cell viability and clonogenic assays following combined ALK and autophagy inhibition. Altogether, our results suggest that co-treatment with crizotinib and chloroquine (two drugs already used in clinics) could be beneficial for ALK-positive ALCL patients.
anaplastic large cell lymphoma; NPM-ALK; autophagy; crizotinib; cytoprotection
Autophagy plays key roles in development, oncogenesis, cardiovascular, metabolic, and neurodegenerative diseases. Hence, understanding how autophagy is regulated can reveal opportunities to modify autophagy in a disease-relevant manner. Ideally, one would want to functionally define autophagy regulators whose enzymatic activity can potentially be modulated. Here, we describe the STK38 protein kinase (also termed NDR1) as a conserved regulator of autophagy. Using STK38 as bait in yeast-two-hybrid screens, we discovered STK38 as a novel binding partner of Beclin1, a key regulator of autophagy. By combining molecular, cell biological, and genetic approaches, we show that STK38 promotes autophagosome formation in human cells and in Drosophila. Upon autophagy induction, STK38-depleted cells display impaired LC3B-II conversion; reduced ATG14L, ATG12, and WIPI-1 puncta formation; and significantly decreased Vps34 activity, as judged by PI3P formation. Furthermore, we observed that STK38 supports the interaction of the exocyst component Exo84 with Beclin1 and RalB, which is required to initiate autophagosome formation. Upon studying the activation of STK38 during autophagy induction, we found that STK38 is stimulated in a MOB1- and exocyst-dependent manner. In contrast, RalB depletion triggers hyperactivation of STK38, resulting in STK38-dependent apoptosis under prolonged autophagy conditions. Together, our data establish STK38 as a conserved regulator of autophagy in human cells and flies. We also provide evidence demonstrating that STK38 and RalB assist the coordination between autophagic and apoptotic events upon autophagy induction, hence further proposing a role for STK38 in determining cellular fate in response to autophagic conditions.
•STK38 is a novel binding partner of Beclin1, a key regulator of autophagy•STK38 positively promotes autophagosome formation in human cells and fly larvae•The activation of the STK38 kinase is regulated during the induction of autophagy•STK38 and RalB support the coordination between autophagic and apoptotic events
Autophagy plays key roles in many diseases; hence, it is important to define autophagy regulators whose activities can potentially be modulated. Here, Joffre et al. report the STK38 kinase as a conserved positive regulator of autophagosome formation, assisting cellular fate determination by coordinating autophagic and apoptotic events.
The phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase complex I (PI3K complex I) is a crucial regulator of autophagy, which contains Beclin 1 (or ATG6), ATG14L, VPS34 (or the class III phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase and its adaptor VPS15) and AMBRA1, and controls autophagosome formation. In a paper recently published in Cell Research, Xia et al. report that during nutrient deprivation the ubiquitin E3 ligase RNF2 is recruited to the PI3K complex I, and ubiquitinates AMBRA1 to trigger its degradation and downregulate autophagy.
We recently reported that BAG6/BAT3 (BCL2-associated athanogene 6) is essential for basal and starvation-induced autophagy in E18.5 bag6−/− mouse embryos and in mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) through the modulation of the EP300/p300-dependent acetylation of TRP53 and autophagy-related (ATG) proteins. We observed that BAG6 increases TRP53 acetylation during starvation and pro-autophagic TRP53-target gene expression. BAG6 also decreases the EP300 dependent-acetylation of ATG5, ATG7, and LC3-I, posttranslational modifications that inhibit autophagy. In addition, in the absence of BAG6 or when using a mutant of BAG6 exclusively located in the cytoplasm, autophagy is inhibited, ATG7 is hyperacetylated, TRP53 acetylation is abrogated, and EP300 accumulates in the cytoplasm indicating that BAG6 is involved in the regulation of the nuclear localization of EP300. We also reported that the interaction between BAG6 and EP300 occurs in the cytoplasm rather than the nucleus. Moreover, during starvation, EP300 is transported to the nucleus in a BAG6-dependent manner. We concluded that BAG6 regulates autophagy by controlling the localization of EP300 and its accessibility to nuclear (TRP53) and cytoplasmic (ATGs) substrates.
autophagy; acetylation; p53; ATG; BAT3; nucleocytoplasmic shuttling
Cell migration is dependent on a series of integrated cellular events including the membrane recycling of the extracellular matrix receptor integrins. In this paper, we investigate the role of autophagy in regulating cell migration. In a wound-healing assay, we observed that autophagy was reduced in cells at the leading edge than in cells located rearward. These differences in autophagy were correlated with the robustness of MTOR activity. The spatial difference in the accumulation of autophagic structures was not detected in rapamycin-treated cells, which had less migration capacity than untreated cells. In contrast, the knockdown of the autophagic protein ATG7 stimulated cell migration of HeLa cells. Accordingly, atg3−/− and atg5−/− MEFs have greater cell migration properties than their wild-type counterparts. Stimulation of autophagy increased the co-localization of β1 integrin-containing vesicles with LC3-stained autophagic vacuoles. Moreover, inhibition of autophagy slowed down the lysosomal degradation of internalized β1 integrins and promoted its membrane recycling. From these findings, we conclude that autophagy regulates cell migration, a central mechanism in cell development, angiogenesis, and tumor progression, by mitigating the cell surface expression of β1 integrins.
macroautophagy; cell migration; endocytosis; integrins; MTOR; lysosomes
Liver fibrosis is a common wound healing response to chronic liver injury of all causes, and its end-stage cirrhosis is responsible for high morbidity and mortality worldwide. Fibrosis results from prolonged parenchymal cell apoptosis and necrosis associated with an inflammatory reaction that leads to recruitment of immune cells, activation and accumulation of fibrogenic cells, and extracellular matrix accumulation. The fibrogenic process is driven by hepatic myofibroblasts, that mainly derive from hepatic stellate cells undergoing a transdifferentiation from a quiescent, lipid-rich into a fibrogenic myofibroblastic phenotype, in response to paracrine/autocrine signals produced by neighbouring inflammatory and parenchymal cells. Autophagy is an important regulator of liver homeostasis under physiological and pathological conditions. This review focuses on recent findings showing that autophagy is a novel, but complex, regulatory pathway in liver fibrosis, with profibrogenic effects relying on its direct contribution to the process of hepatic stellate cell activation, but with antifibrogenic properties via indirect hepatoprotective and anti-inflammatory properties. Therefore, cell-specific delivery of drugs that exploit autophagic pathways is a prerequisite to further consider autophagy as a potential target for antifibrotic therapy.
Amino acids not only participate in intermediary metabolism but also stimulate insulin-mechanistic target of rapamycin (MTOR)-mediated signal transduction which controls the major metabolic pathways. Among these is the pathway of autophagy which takes care of the degradation of long-lived proteins and of the elimination of damaged or functionally redundant organelles. Proper functioning of this process is essential for cell survival. Dysregulation of autophagy has been implicated in the etiology of several pathologies. The history of the studies on the interrelationship between amino acids, MTOR signaling and autophagy is the subject of this review. The mechanisms responsible for the stimulation of MTOR-mediated signaling, and the inhibition of autophagy, by amino acids have been studied intensively in the past but are still not completely clarified. Recent developments in this field are discussed.
Glutamine; Leucine; Rapamycin; Lysosomes; Mitochondria
The lysosome is a key subcellular organelle that receives and degrades macromolecules from endocytic, secretory and autophagic pathways. Lysosomal function is thus critical for an efficient autophagic process. However, the molecular mechanisms mediating lysosomal function upon autophagic induction are largely unknown. Our laboratory recently discovered that upon autophagy activation, the lysosome is activated, and this functional activation is dependent on MTORC1 suppression, suggesting that MTORC1 exerts a suppressive effect on lysosomal function. Therefore, data from our study demonstrate that MTORC1 exerts a dual inhibitory effect on autophagy, blocking autophagy not only at the initiation stage via suppression of the ULK1 complex, but also at the degradation stage via inhibition of lysosomal function. We think that understanding the negative regulatory effect of MTORC1 on lysosomal function expands the functional scope of MTORC1 in autophagy regulation, and offers new clues for developing novel interventional strategies in autophagy- and lysosome-related diseases.
autophagy; lysosome; MTORC1; autophagosome; fusion
Breast cancer tissue contains a small population of cells that have the ability to self-renew; these cells are known as cancer stem-like cells (CSCs). We have recently shown that autophagy is essential for the tumorigenicity of these CSCs. Salinomycin (Sal), a K+/H+ ionophore, has recently been shown to be at least 100 times more effective than paclitaxel in reducing the proportion of breast CSCs. However, its mechanisms of action are still unclear. We show here that Sal blocked both autophagy flux and lysosomal proteolytic activity in both CSCs and non-CSCs derived from breast cancer cells. GFP-LC3 staining combined with fluorescent dextran uptake and LysoTracker-Red staining showed that autophagosome/lysosome fusion was not altered by Sal treatment. Acridine orange staining provided evidence that lysosomes display the characteristics of acidic compartments in Sal-treated cells. However, tandem mCherry-GFP-LC3 assay indicated that the degradation of mCherry-GFP-LC3 is blocked by Sal. Furthermore, the protein degradation activity of lysosomes was inhibited, as demonstrated by the rate of long-lived protein degradation, DQ-BSA assay and measurement of cathepsin activity. Our data indicated that Sal has a relatively greater suppressant effect on autophagic flux in the ALDH+ population in HMLER cells than in the ALDH− population; moreover, this differential effect on autophagic flux correlated with an increase in apoptosis in the ALDH+ population. ATG7 depletion accelerated the proapoptotic capacity of Sal in the ALDH+ population. Our findings provide new insights into how the autophagy-lysosomal pathway contributes to the ability of Sal to target CSCs in vitro.
breast cancer stem-like/progenitor cell; salinomycin; autophagy; cell death; lysosome
Nutrient deprivation is a stimulus shared by both autophagy and the formation of primary cilia. The recently discovered role of primary cilia in nutrient sensing and signaling motivated us to explore the possible functional interactions between this signaling hub and autophagy. Here we show that part of the molecular machinery involved in ciliogenesis also participates in the early steps of the autophagic process. Signaling from the cilia, such as that from the Hedgehog pathway, induces autophagy by acting directly on essential autophagy-related proteins strategically located in the base of the cilium by ciliary trafficking proteins. While abrogation of ciliogenesis partially inhibits autophagy, blockage of autophagy enhances primary cilia growth and cilia-associated signaling during normal nutritional conditions. We propose that basal autophagy regulates ciliary growth through the degradation of proteins required for intraflagellar transport. Compromised ability to activate the autophagic response may underlie the basis of some common ciliopathies.
primary cilia; intraflagellar transport proteins; lysosomes; autophagosomes; vesicular trafficking
Lysosome is a key subcellular organelle in the execution of the autophagic process and at present little is known whether lysosomal function is controlled in the process of autophagy. In this study, we first found that suppression of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) activity by starvation or two mTOR catalytic inhibitors (PP242 and Torin1), but not by an allosteric inhibitor (rapamycin), leads to activation of lysosomal function. Second, we provided evidence that activation of lysosomal function is associated with the suppression of mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1), but not mTORC2, and the mTORC1 localization to lysosomes is not directly correlated to its regulatory role in lysosomal function. Third, we examined the involvement of transcription factor EB (TFEB) and demonstrated that TFEB activation following mTORC1 suppression is necessary but not sufficient for lysosomal activation. Finally, Atg5 or Atg7 deletion or blockage of the autophagosome-lysosome fusion process effectively diminished lysosomal activation, suggesting that lysosomal activation occurring in the course of autophagy is dependent on autophagosome-lysosome fusion. Taken together, this study demonstrates that in the course of autophagy, lysosomal function is upregulated via a dual mechanism involving mTORC1 suppression and autophagosome-lysosome fusion.
autophagy; lysosome; mTORC1; autophagosome
Malignant tissue contains a rare population of multi-potent cells known as cancer stem-like cells (CSCs). Autophagy is an important mechanism in cancer cell survival and tumor growth; it can both suppress malignant transformation and promote the growth of established cancers. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the tumor-promoting and tumor-suppressing functions of autophagy in CSCs are not understood. Our work demonstrates that a prosurvival autophagic pathway is critical for breast CSC maintenance. Notably, we provide new evidence for the existence of two separate, context-dependent, autophagic programs that are regulated in opposite ways by BECN1.
breast cancer; autophagy; cancer stem-like/progenitor cell; Beclin 1
Autophagy is now known to be an essential component of host innate and adaptive immunity. Several herpesviruses have developed various strategies to evade this antiviral host defense. Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) blocks autophagy in fibroblasts and in neurons, and the ICP34.5 protein is important for the resistance of HSV-1 to autophagy because of its interaction with the autophagy machinery protein Beclin 1. ICP34.5 also counteracts the shutoff of protein synthesis mediated by the double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)-dependent protein kinase PKR by inhibiting phosphorylation of the eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2α (eIF2α) in the PKR/eIF2α signaling pathway. Us11 is a late gene product of HSV-1, which is also able to preclude the host shutoff by direct inhibition of PKR. In the present study, we unveil a previously uncharacterized function of Us11 by demonstrating its antiautophagic activity. We show that the expression of Us11 is able to block autophagy and autophagosome formation in both HeLa cells and fibroblasts. Furthermore, immediate-early expression of Us11 by an ICP34.5 deletion mutant virus is sufficient to render the cells resistant to PKR-induced and virus-induced autophagy. PKR expression and the PKR binding domain of Us11 are required for the antiautophagic activity of Us11. However, unlike ICP34.5, Us11 did not interact with Beclin 1. We suggest that the inhibition of autophagy observed in cells infected with HSV-1 results from the activity of not only ICP34.5 on Beclin 1 but also Us11 by direct interaction with PKR.
Autophagy is a rapidly expanding field in the sense that our knowledge about the molecular mechanism and its connections to a wide range of physiological processes has increased substantially in the past decade. Similarly, the vocabulary associated with autophagy has grown concomitantly. This fact makes it difficult for readers, even those who work in the field, to keep up with the ever-expanding terminology associated with the various autophagy-related processes. Accordingly, we have developed a comprehensive glossary of autophagy-related terms that is meant to provide a quick reference for researchers who need a brief reminder of the regulatory effects of transcription factors or chemical agents that induce or inhibit autophagy, the function of the autophagy-related proteins, or the role of accessory machinery or structures that are associated with autophagy.
autophagy; definitions; glossary; lexicon; terms
Amino acids, leucine in particular, are known to inhibit autophagy, at least in part by their ability to stimulate MTOR-mediated signaling. Evidence is presented showing that glutamate dehydrogenase, the central enzyme in amino acid catabolism, contributes to leucine sensing in the regulation of autophagy. The data suggest a dual mechanism by which glutamate dehydrogenase activity modulates autophagy, i.e., by activating MTORC1 and by limiting the formation of reactive oxygen species.
reactive oxygen species; NADPH; amino acids; signaling; mitochondria; MTOR; AMPK; transhydrogenase
In 2008 we published the first set of guidelines for standardizing research in autophagy. Since then, research on this topic has continued to accelerate, and many new scientists have entered the field. Our knowledge base and relevant new technologies have also been expanding. Accordingly, it is important to update these guidelines for monitoring autophagy in different organisms. Various reviews have described the range of assays that have been used for this purpose. Nevertheless, there continues to be confusion regarding acceptable methods to measure autophagy, especially in multicellular eukaryotes. A key point that needs to be emphasized is that there is a difference between measurements that monitor the numbers or volume of autophagic elements (e.g., autophagosomes or autolysosomes) at any stage of the autophagic process vs. those that measure flux through the autophagy pathway (i.e., the complete process); thus, a block in macroautophagy that results in autophagosome accumulation needs to be differentiated from stimuli that result in increased autophagic activity, defined as increased autophagy induction coupled with increased delivery to, and degradation within, lysosomes (in most higher eukaryotes and some protists such as Dictyostelium) or the vacuole (in plants and fungi). In other words, it is especially important that investigators new to the field understand that the appearance of more autophagosomes does not necessarily equate with more autophagy. In fact, in many cases, autophagosomes accumulate because of a block in trafficking to lysosomes without a concomitant change in autophagosome biogenesis, whereas an increase in autolysosomes may reflect a reduction in degradative activity. Here, we present a set of guidelines for the selection and interpretation of methods for use by investigators who aim to examine macroautophagy and related processes, as well as for reviewers who need to provide realistic and reasonable critiques of papers that are focused on these processes. These guidelines are not meant to be a formulaic set of rules, because the appropriate assays depend in part on the question being asked and the system being used. In addition, we emphasize that no individual assay is guaranteed to be the most appropriate one in every situation, and we strongly recommend the use of multiple assays to monitor autophagy. In these guidelines, we consider these various methods of assessing autophagy and what information can, or cannot, be obtained from them. Finally, by discussing the merits and limits of particular autophagy assays, we hope to encourage technical innovation in the field.
LC3; autolysosome; autophagosome; flux; lysosome; phagophore; stress; vacuole
Autophagy is an essential, conserved lysosomal degradation pathway that controls the quality of the cytoplasm by eliminating protein aggregates and damaged organelles. It begins when double-membraned autophagosomes engulf portions of the cytoplasm, which is followed by fusion of these vesicles with lysosomes and degradation of the autophagic contents. In addition to its vital homeostatic role, this degradation pathway is involved in various human disorders, including metabolic conditions, neurodegenerative diseases, cancers and infectious diseases. This article provides an overview of the mechanisms and regulation of autophagy, the role of this pathway in disease and strategies for therapeutic modulation.
Canonical autophagy is positively regulated by the Beclin 1/phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase class III (PtdIns3KC3) complex that generates an essential phospholipid, phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate (PtdIns(3)P), for the formation of autophagosomes. Previously, we identified the human WIPI protein family and found that WIPI-1 specifically binds PtdIns(3)P, accumulates at the phagophore and becomes a membrane protein of generated autophagosomes. Combining siRNA-mediated protein downregulation with automated high through-put analysis of PtdIns(3)P-dependent autophagosomal membrane localization of WIPI-1, we found that WIPI-1 functions upstream of both Atg7 and Atg5, and stimulates an increase of LC3-II upon nutrient starvation. Resveratrol-mediated autophagy was shown to enter autophagic degradation in a noncanonical manner, independent of Beclin 1 but dependent on Atg7 and Atg5. By using electron microscopy, LC3 lipidation and GFP-LC3 puncta-formation assays we confirmed these results and found that this effect is partially wortmannin-insensitive. In line with this, resveratrol did not promote phagophore localization of WIPI-1, WIPI-2 or the Atg16L complex above basal level. In fact, the presence of resveratrol in nutrient-free conditions inhibited phagophore localization of WIPI-1. Nevertheless, we found that resveratrol-mediated autophagy functionally depends on canonical-driven LC3-II production, as shown by siRNA-mediated downregulation of WIPI-1 or WIPI-2. From this it is tempting to speculate that resveratrol promotes noncanonical autophagic degradation downstream of the PtdIns(3)P-WIPI-Atg7-Atg5 pathway, by engaging a distinct subset of LC3-II that might be generated at membrane origins apart from canonical phagophore structures.
WIPI-1; Atg18; PtdIns(3)P; LC3; resveratrol; noncanonical autophagy
Ceramide is a sphingolipid bioactive molecule that induces apoptosis and other forms of cell death, and triggers macroautophagy (referred to below as autophagy). Like amino acid starvation, ceramide triggers autophagy by interfering with the mTOR-signaling pathway, and by dissociating the Beclin 1:Bcl-2 complex in a c-Jun N-terminal kinase 1 (JNK1)-mediated Bcl-2 phosphorylation-dependent manner. Dissociation of the Beclin 1:Bcl-2 complex, and the subsequent stimulation of autophagy have been observed in various contexts in which the cellular level of long-chain ceramides was increased. It is notable that the conversion of short-chain ceramides (C2-ceramide and C6-ceramide) into long-chain ceramide via the activity of ceramide synthase is required to trigger autophagy. The dissociation of the Beclin 1:Bcl-2 complex has also been observed in response to tamoxifen and PDMP (an inhibitor of the enzyme that converts ceramide to glucosylceramide), drugs that increase the intracellular level of long-chain ceramides. However, and in contrast to starvation, over-expression of Bcl-2 does not blunt ceramide-induced autophagy. Whether this autophagy that is unchecked by forced dissociation of the Beclin 1:Bcl-2 complex is related to the ability of ceramide to trigger cell death remains an open question. More generally, the question of whether ceramide-induced autophagy is a dedicated cell death mechanism deserves closer scrutiny.
macroautophagy; Bcl-2; Beclin 1; c-Jun N-terminal kinase; cell death; sphingolipids