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1.  PTEN Increases Autophagy and Inhibits the Ubiquitin-Proteasome Pathway in Glioma Cells Independently of its Lipid Phosphatase Activity 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83318.
Two major mechanisms of intracellular protein degradation, autophagy and the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway, operate in mammalian cells. PTEN, which is frequently mutated in glioblastomas, is a tumor suppressor gene that encodes a dual specificity phosphatase that antagonizes the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase class I/AKT/mTOR pathway, which is a key regulator of autophagy. Here, we investigated in U87MG human glioma cells the role of PTEN in the regulation of autophagy and the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway, because both are functionally linked and are relevant in cancer progression. Since U87MG glioma cells lack a functional PTEN, we used stable clones that express, under the control of a tetracycline-inducible system (Tet-on), wild-type PTEN and two of its mutants, G129E-PTEN and C124S-PTEN, which, respectively, lack the lipid phosphatase activity only and both the lipid and the protein phosphatase activities of this protein. Expression of PTEN in U87MG glioma cells decreased proteasome activity and also reduced protein ubiquitination. On the contrary, expression of PTEN increased the autophagic flux and the lysosomal mass. Interestingly, and although PTEN negatively regulates the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase class I/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway by its lipid phosphatase activity, both effects in U87MG cells were independent of this activity. These results suggest a new mTOR-independent signaling pathway by which PTEN can regulate in opposite directions the main mechanisms of intracellular protein degradation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0083318
PMCID: PMC3862694  PMID: 24349488
2.  Erratum to 
Autophagy  2012;8(7):1163.
doi:10.4161/auto.21428
PMCID: PMC3429560
Lafora disease; autophagy; glycogen metabolism; laforin; malin; neurodegeneration
3.  Alterations in ROS Activity and Lysosomal pH Account for Distinct Patterns of Macroautophagy in LINCL and JNCL Fibroblasts 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e55526.
Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinoses (NCL) are lysosomal storage disorders characterized by the accumulation of lipofuscin within lysosomes. Late infantile (LINCL) and juvenile (JNCL) are their most common forms and are caused by loss-of-function mutations in tripeptidyl peptidase 1 (TPP1), a lysosomal endopeptidase, and CLN3 protein (CLN3p), whose location and function is still controversial. LINCL patients suffer more severely from NCL consequences than JNCL patients, in spite of having in common an abnormal accumulation of material with a similar composition in the lysosomes. To identify distinctive characteristics that could explain the differences in the severity of LINCL and JNCL pathologies, we compared the protein degradation mechanisms in patientś fibroblasts. Pulse-chase experiments show a significant decrease in protein degradation by macroautophagy in fibroblasts bearing TPP1 (CLN2) and CLN3p (CLN3) mutations. In CLN2 fibroblasts, LC3-II levels and other procedures indicate an impaired formation of autophagosomes, which confirms the pulse-chase experiments. This defect is linked to an accumulation of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), an upregulation of the Akt-mTOR signalling pathway and increased activities of the p38α and ERK1/2 MAPKs. In CLN3 fibroblasts, LC3-II analysis indicates impairment in autophagosome maturation and there is also a defect in fluid phase endocytosis, two alterations that can be related to an observed increase of 0.5 units in lysosomal pH. CLN3 fibroblasts also accumulate ROS but to a lower extent than CLN2. TPP1 activity is completely abrogated in CLN2 and partially diminished in CLN3 fibroblasts. TPP1 cleaves small hydrophobic proteins like subunit c of mitochondrial ATP synthase and the lack or a lower activity of this enzyme can contribute to lipofuscin accumulation. These alterations in TPP1 activity lead to an increased ROS production, especially in CLN2 in which it is aggravated by a decrease in catalase activity. This could explain the earlier appearance of the symptoms in the LINCL form.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055526
PMCID: PMC3567113  PMID: 23408996
4.  Impaired autophagy in Lafora disease 
Autophagy  2010;6(7):991-993.
Lafora disease (LD) is a progressive, lethal, autosomal recessive, neurodegenerative disorder that manifests with myoclonus epilepsy. LD is characterized by the presence of intracellular inclusion bodies called Lafora bodies (LB), in brain, spinal cord and other tissues. More than 50 percent of LD is caused by mutations in EPM2A that encodes laforin. Here we review our recent findings that revealed that laforin regulates autophagy. We consider how autophagy compromise may predispose to LB formation and neurodegeneration in LD, and discuss future investigations suggested by our data.
doi:10.4161/auto.6.7.13308
PMCID: PMC3039746  PMID: 20818165
autophagy; glycogen metabolism; Lafora disease; laforin; malin; neurodegeneration
5.  Laforin, the most common protein mutated in Lafora disease, regulates autophagy 
Human Molecular Genetics  2010;19(14):2867-2876.
Lafora disease (LD) is an autosomal recessive, progressive myoclonus epilepsy, which is characterized by the accumulation of polyglucosan inclusion bodies, called Lafora bodies, in the cytoplasm of cells in the central nervous system and in many other organs. However, it is unclear at the moment whether Lafora bodies are the cause of the disease, or whether they are secondary consequences of a primary metabolic alteration. Here we describe that the major genetic lesion that causes LD, loss-of-function of the protein laforin, impairs autophagy. This phenomenon is confirmed in cell lines from human patients, mouse embryonic fibroblasts from laforin knockout mice and in tissues from such mice. Conversely, laforin expression stimulates autophagy. Laforin regulates autophagy via the mammalian target of rapamycin kinase-dependent pathway. The changes in autophagy mediated by laforin regulate the accumulation of diverse autophagy substrates and would be predicted to impact on the Lafora body accumulation and the cell stress seen in this disease that may eventually contribute to cell death.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddq190
PMCID: PMC2893813  PMID: 20453062
6.  Characterization of Human GTPBP3, a GTP-Binding Protein Involved in Mitochondrial tRNA Modification▿ † 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2008;28(24):7514-7531.
Human GTPBP3 is an evolutionarily conserved, multidomain protein involved in mitochondrial tRNA modification. Characterization of its biochemical properties and the phenotype conferred by GTPBP3 inactivation is crucial to understanding the role of this protein in tRNA maturation and its effects on mitochondrial respiration. We show that the two most abundant GTPBP3 isoforms exhibit moderate affinity for guanine nucleotides like their bacterial homologue, MnmE, although they hydrolyze GTP at a 100-fold lower rate. This suggests that regulation of the GTPase activity, essential for the tRNA modification function of MnmE, is different in GTPBP3. In fact, potassium-induced dimerization of the G domain leads to stimulation of the GTPase activity in MnmE but not in GTPBP3. The GTPBP3 N-terminal domain mediates a potassium-independent dimerization, which appears as an evolutionarily conserved property of the protein family, probably related to the construction of the binding site for the one-carbon-unit donor in the modification reaction. Partial inactivation of GTPBP3 by small interfering RNA reduces oxygen consumption, ATP production, and mitochondrial protein synthesis, while the degradation of these proteins slightly increases. It also results in mitochondria with defective membrane potential and increased superoxide levels. These phenotypic traits suggest that GTPBP3 defects contribute to the pathogenesis of some oxidative phosphorylation diseases.
doi:10.1128/MCB.00946-08
PMCID: PMC2593442  PMID: 18852288

Results 1-6 (6)