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1.  Tumor Suppression and Promotion by Autophagy 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:603980.
Autophagy is a highly regulated catabolic process that involves lysosomal degradation of proteins and organelles, mostly mitochondria, for the maintenance of cellular homeostasis and reduction of metabolic stress. Problems in the execution of this process are linked to different pathological conditions, such as neurodegeneration, aging, and cancer. Many of the proteins that regulate autophagy are either oncogenes or tumor suppressor proteins. Specifically, tumor suppressor genes that negatively regulate mTOR, such as PTEN, AMPK, LKB1, and TSC1/2 stimulate autophagy while, conversely, oncogenes that activate mTOR, such as class I PI3K, Ras, Rheb, and AKT, inhibit autophagy, suggesting that autophagy is a tumor suppressor mechanism. Consistent with this hypothesis, the inhibition of autophagy promotes oxidative stress, genomic instability, and tumorigenesis. Nevertheless, autophagy also functions as a cytoprotective mechanism under stress conditions, including hypoxia and nutrient starvation, that promotes tumor growth and resistance to chemotherapy in established tumors. Here, in this brief review, we will focus the discussion on this ambiguous role of autophagy in the development and progression of cancer.
doi:10.1155/2014/603980
PMCID: PMC4189854  PMID: 25328887
2.  Calcium and mitochondrial metabolism in ceramide-induced cardiomyocyte death 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2013;1832(8):1334-1344.
Ceramides are important intermediates in the biosynthesis and degradation of sphingolipids that regulatenumerous cellular processes, including cell cycle progression, cell growth, differentiation and death. In cardiomyocytes, ceramides induce apoptosis by decreasing mitochondrial membrane potential and promoting cytochrome-c release. Ca2+ overload is a common feature of all types of cell death. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of ceramides on cytoplasmic Ca2+ levels, mitochondrial function and cardiomyocyte death. Our data show that C2-ceramide induces apoptosis and necrosis in cultured cardiomyocytes by a mechanism involving increased Ca2+ influx, mitochondrial network fragmentation and loss of the mitochondrial Ca2+ buffer capacity. These biochemical events increase cytosolic Ca2+ levels and trigger cardiomyocyte death via the activation of calpains.
doi:10.1016/j.bbadis.2013.04.009
PMCID: PMC4118291  PMID: 23602992
Ceramide; Metabolism; Mitochondrial dynamics; Ca2+; Cell death; Cardiomyocyte
4.  Spermidine and resveratrol induce autophagy by distinct pathways converging on the acetylproteome 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2011;192(4):615-629.
The acetylase inhibitor spermidine and the sirtuin-1 activator resveratrol disrupt the antagonistic network of acetylases and deacetylases that regulate autophagy.
Autophagy protects organelles, cells, and organisms against several stress conditions. Induction of autophagy by resveratrol requires the nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide–dependent deacetylase sirtuin 1 (SIRT1). In this paper, we show that the acetylase inhibitor spermidine stimulates autophagy independent of SIRT1 in human and yeast cells as well as in nematodes. Although resveratrol and spermidine ignite autophagy through distinct mechanisms, these compounds stimulate convergent pathways that culminate in concordant modifications of the acetylproteome. Both agents favor convergent deacetylation and acetylation reactions in the cytosol and in the nucleus, respectively. Both resveratrol and spermidine were able to induce autophagy in cytoplasts (enucleated cells). Moreover, a cytoplasm-restricted mutant of SIRT1 could stimulate autophagy, suggesting that cytoplasmic deacetylation reactions dictate the autophagic cascade. At doses at which neither resveratrol nor spermidine stimulated autophagy alone, these agents synergistically induced autophagy. Altogether, these data underscore the importance of an autophagy regulatory network of antagonistic deacetylases and acetylases that can be pharmacologically manipulated.
doi:10.1083/jcb.201008167
PMCID: PMC3044119  PMID: 21339330
5.  Autophagy mediates pharmacological lifespan extension by spermidine and resveratrol 
Aging (Albany NY)  2009;1(12):961-970.
Although autophagy has widely been conceived as a self-destructive mechanism that causes cell death, accumulating evidence suggests that autophagy usually mediates cytoprotection, thereby avoiding the apoptotic or necrotic demise of stressed cells. Recent evidence produced by our groups demonstrates that autophagy is also involved in pharmacological manipulations that increase longevity. Exogenous supply of the polyamine spermidine can prolong the lifespan of (while inducing autophagy in) yeast, nematodes and flies. Similarly, resveratrol can trigger autophagy in cells from different organisms, extend lifespan in nematodes, and ameliorate the fitness of human cells undergoing metabolic stress. These beneficial effects are lost when essential autophagy modulators are genetically or pharmacologically inactivated, indicating that autophagy is required for the cytoprotective and/or anti-aging effects of spermidine and resveratrol. Genetic and functional studies indicate that spermidine inhibits histone acetylases, while resveratrol activates the histone deacetylase Sirtuin 1 to confer cytoprotection/longevity. Although it remains elusive whether the same histones (or perhaps other nuclear or cytoplasmic proteins) act as the downstream targets of spermidine and resveratrol, these results point to an essential role of protein hypoacetylation in autophagy control and in the regulation of longevity.
PMCID: PMC2815753  PMID: 20157579
AMPK; Caenorhabditis elegans; IKK; mTOR; p53; Saccharomyces cerevisiae
6.  The mitochondrial ribosomal protein of the large subunit, Afo1p, determines cellular longevity through mitochondrial back-signaling via TOR1 
Aging  2009;1(7):622-636.
Yeast mother cell-specific aging constitutes a model of replicative aging as it occurs in stem cell populations of higher eukaryotes. Here, we present a new long-lived yeast deletion mutation,afo1 (for aging factor one), that confers a 60% increase in replicative lifespan. AFO1/MRPL25 codes for a protein that is contained in the large subunit of the mitochondrial ribosome. Double mutant experiments indicate that the longevity-increasing action of the afo1 mutation is independent of mitochondrial translation, yet involves the cytoplasmic Tor1p as well as the growth-controlling transcription factor Sfp1p. In their final cell cycle, the long-lived mutant cells do show the phenotypes of yeast apoptosis indicating that the longevity of the mutant is not caused by an inability to undergo programmed cell death. Furthermore, the afo1 mutation displays high resistance against oxidants. Despite the respiratory deficiency the mutant has paradoxical increase in growth rate compared to generic petite mutants. A comparison of the single and double mutant strains for afo1 and fob1 shows that the longevity phenotype of afo1 is independent of the formation of ERCs (ribosomal DNA minicircles). AFO1/MRPL25 function establishes a new connection between mitochondria, metabolism and aging.
PMCID: PMC2806038  PMID: 20157544
Saccharomyces cerevisiae; yeast mother cell-specific ageing; TOR complex; rapamycin
7.  Regulation of autophagy by cytoplasmic p53 
Nature cell biology  2008;10(6):676-687.
Multiple cellular stressors, including activation of the tumour suppressor p53, can stimulate autophagy. Here we show that knockout, knockdown or pharmacological inhibition of p53 can induce autophagy in human, mouse and nematode cells. Enhanced autophagy improved the survival of p53-deficient cancer cells under conditions of hypoxia and nutrient depletion, allowing them to maintain high ATP levels. Inhibition of p53 led to autophagy in enucleated cells, and cytoplasmic, not nuclear, p53 was able to repress the enhanced autophagy of p53-/- cells. Many different inducers of autophagy (for example, starvation, rapamycin and toxins affecting the endoplasmic reticulum) stimulated proteasome-mediated degradation of p53 through a pathway relying on the E3 ubiquitin ligase HDM2. Inhibition of p53 degradation prevented the activation of autophagy in several cell lines, in response to several distinct stimuli. These results provide evidence of a key signalling pathway that links autophagy to the cancer-associated dysregulation of p53.
doi:10.1038/ncb1730
PMCID: PMC2676564  PMID: 18454141
8.  Mitochondrial control of cell death induced by hyperosmotic stress 
Apoptosis  2006;12(1):3-18.
HeLa and HCT116 cells respond differentially to sorbitol, an osmolyte able to induce hypertonic stress. In these models, sorbitol promoted the phenotypic manifestations of early apoptosis followed by complete loss of viability in a time-, dose-, and cell type-specific fashion, by eliciting distinct yet partially overlapping molecular pathways. In HCT116 but not in HeLa cells, sorbitol caused the mitochondrial release of the caspase-independent death effector AIF, whereas in both cell lines cytochrome c was retained in mitochondria. Despite cytochrome c retention, HeLa cells exhibited the progressive activation of caspase-3, presumably due to the prior activation of caspase-8. Accordingly, caspase inhibition prevented sorbitol-induced killing in HeLa, but only partially in HCT116 cells. Both the knock-out of Bax in HCT116 cells and the knock-down of Bax in A549 cells by RNA interference reduced the AIF release and/or the mitochondrial alterations. While the knock-down of Bcl-2/Bcl-XL sensitized to sorbitol-induced killing, overexpression of a Bcl-2 variant that specifically localizes to mitochondria (but not of the wild-type nor of a endoplasmic reticulum-targeted form) strongly inhibited sorbitol effects. Thus, hyperosmotic stress kills cells by triggering different molecular pathways, which converge at mitochondria where pro- and anti-apoptotic members of the Bcl-2 family exert their control.
doi:10.1007/s10495-006-0328-x
PMCID: PMC2799004  PMID: 17080328
Apoptosis; Bax; Bcl-2; Hyperosmotic stress; Mitochondria; Sorbitol

Results 1-8 (8)