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1.  ATRA-induced upregulation of Beclin 1 prolongs the life span of differentiated acute promyelocytic leukemia cells 
Autophagy  2011;7(10):1108-1114.
Acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) results from a blockade of granulocyte differentiation at the promyelocytic stage. All-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) induces clinical remission in APL patients by enhancing the rapid differentiation of APL cells and the clearance of PML-RARα, APL's hallmark oncoprotein. In the present study, we demonstrated that both autophagy and Beclin 1, an autophagic protein, are upregulated during the course of ATRA-induced neutrophil/granulocyte differentiation of an APL-derived cell line named NB4 cells. This induction of autophagy is associated with downregulation of Bcl-2 and inhibition of mTOR activity. Small interfering RNA-mediated knockdown of BECN1 expression enhances apoptosis triggered by ATRA in NB4 cells but does not affect the differentiation process. These results provide evidence that the upregulation of Beclin 1 by ATRA constitutes an anti-apoptotic signal for maintaining the viability of mature APL cells, but has no crucial effect on the granulocytic differentiation. This finding may help to elucidate the mechanisms involved in ATRA resistance of APL patients, and in the ATRA syndrome caused by an accumulation of mature APL cells.
PMCID: PMC3242613  PMID: 21691148
APL; Beclin 1; apoptosis; ATRA; autophagy; differentiation
2.  Highly Ordered Spatial Organization of the Structural Long Noncoding NEAT1 RNAs within Paraspeckle Nuclear Bodies 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2010;21(22):4020-4027.
We describe the spatial organization of the two NEAT1 noncoding (nc)RNAs required for the integrity of the paraspeckle nuclear bodies. The central sequences of the long transcript are internal when its extremities and the short isoform are peripheral, indicating how RNA can contribute to the architecture of nuclear bodies.
Paraspeckles (PSPs) are nuclear bodies associated with the retention in the nucleus of specific mRNAs. Two isoforms of a long noncoding RNA (NEAT1_v1/Menε and NEAT1_v2/Menβ) are required for the integrity of PSPs. Here, we analyzed the molecular organization of PSPs by immuno- and in situ hybridization electron microscopy. Detection of the paraspeckle markers PSPC1 and P54NRB/NONO confirm the identity between PSPs and the previously described interchromatin granule-associated zones (IGAZs). High-resolution in situ hybridization of NEAT1 transcripts revealed a highly ordered organization of IGAZ/PSPs. Although the 3.7-kb NEAT1_v1 and the identical 5′ end of the 22.7-kb NEAT1_v2 transcripts are confined to the periphery, central sequences of NEAT1_v2 are found within the electron-dense core of the bodies. Moreover, the 3′ end of NEAT1_v2 also localize to the periphery, indicating possible architectures for IGAZ/PSPs. These results further suggest that the organization of NEAT1 transcripts constrains the geometry of these bodies. Accordingly, we observed in HeLa and NIH 3T3 cells that IGAZ/PSPs are elongated structures with a well-defined diameter. Our results provide new insight on the ability of noncoding RNAs to form subcellular structures.
PMCID: PMC2982136  PMID: 20881053
3.  Inhibition of Macroautophagy Triggers Apoptosis† 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2005;25(3):1025-1040.
Mammalian cells were observed to die under conditions in which nutrients were depleted and, simultaneously, macroautophagy was inhibited either genetically (by a small interfering RNA targeting Atg5, Atg6/Beclin 1-1, Atg10, or Atg12) or pharmacologically (by 3-methyladenine, hydroxychloroquine, bafilomycin A1, or monensin). Cell death occurred through apoptosis (type 1 cell death), since it was reduced by stabilization of mitochondrial membranes (with Bcl-2 or vMIA, a cytomegalovirus-derived gene) or by caspase inhibition. Under conditions in which the fusion between lysosomes and autophagosomes was inhibited, the formation of autophagic vacuoles was enhanced at a preapoptotic stage, as indicated by accumulation of LC3-II protein, ultrastructural studies, and an increase in the acidic vacuolar compartment. Cells exhibiting a morphology reminiscent of (autophagic) type 2 cell death, however, recovered, and only cells with a disrupted mitochondrial transmembrane potential were beyond the point of no return and inexorably died even under optimal culture conditions. All together, these data indicate that autophagy may be cytoprotective, at least under conditions of nutrient depletion, and point to an important cross talk between type 1 and type 2 cell death pathways.
PMCID: PMC543994  PMID: 15657430

Results 1-3 (3)