The activity of metabolic enzymes is controlled by three principle levels: the amount of enzyme, the catalytic activity, and the accessibility of substrates. Reversible lysine acetylation is emerging as a major regulatory mechanism in metabolism that is involved in all three levels of controlling metabolic enzymes and is altered frequently in human diseases. Acetylation rivals other common posttranslational modifications in cell regulation not only in the number of substrates it modifies, but also the variety of regulatory mechanisms it facilitates.
Hippo; YAP; GPCR; cancer; LPA; Rho
TORC1 (Target of rapamycin complex 1) has a critical role in the regulation of cell growth and cell size. A wide range of signals, including amino acids, is known to activate TORC1. Here, we report the identification of Rag GTPases as novel activators of TORC1 in response to amino acid signals. Knockdown of Rag gene expression suppressed the stimulatory effect of amino acids on TORC1 in Drosophila S2 cells. Expression of constitutively active (GTP-bound) Rag in mammalian cells enhances TORC1 in the absence of amino acids while expression of dominant negative Rag blocks the stimulatory effects of amino acids on TORC1. Drosophila genetic studies also show that the Rag GTPases regulate cell growth, autophagy, and animal viability under starvation. Together, our studies establish a novel function of Rag GTPases in TORC1 activation in response to amino acid signals.
The Hippo signaling pathway was initially defined by genetic studies in Drosophila to regulate tissue growth and organ size [1, 2]. This pathway is highly conserved in mammals and dysregulation of the Hippo pathway has been implicated in human cancer. Although the exact extracellular signal that controls the Hippo pathway is currently unknown, compelling evidence supports a critical role of the Hippo pathway in cell contact inhibition, which is a property commonly lost in cancer cells. Many molecules, such as the merlin tumor suppressor protein, have been identified as regulating the activity of the core Hippo pathway components [1, 2]. Acting downstream are two key transcription co-activators, YAP and TAZ, which mediate the major gene regulation and biological functions of the Hippo pathway. This article will focus on the physiological function and molecular regulation of YAP/TAZ and its Drosophila homolog Yki.
The Hippo pathway is crucial in organ size control and its dysregulation contributes to tumorigenesis. However, upstream signals that regulate the mammalian Hippo pathway have remained elusive. Here we report that the Hippo pathway is regulated by G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) signaling. Serum-borne lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) and sphingosine 1-phosphophate (S1P) act through G12/13-coupled receptors to inhibit the Hippo pathway kinases Lats1/2 thereby activating YAP and TAZ transcription co-activators, which are oncoproteins repressed by Lats1/2. YAP and TAZ are involved in LPA-induced gene expression, cell migration, and proliferation. In contrast, stimulation of Gs-coupled receptors by glucagon or epinephrine activates Lats1/2 kinase activity, thereby inhibiting YAP function. Thus, GPCR signaling can either activate or inhibit the Hippo-YAP pathway depending on the coupled G-protein. Our study identifies extracellular diffusible signals that modulate the Hippo pathway and also establishes the Hippo-YAP pathway as a critical signaling branch downstream of GPCR.
Apart from a critical role for Notch and pre-TCR, the signaling pathway required for T-lymphopoiesis is largely unknown. Given the potential link between Notch and mTOR signaling in cancer cells, we used mice with conditional deletion of either Raptor or Rictor genes to determine potential contribution of the mTOR complex I and II in T-lymphopoiesis. Our data demonstrated that targeted mutation of Rictor in the thymocytes drastically reduced the thymic cellularity, primarily by reducing proliferation of the immature thymocytes. Rictor-deficiency caused a partial block of thymocyte development at the double negative 3 stage. The effect of Rictor deficiency is selective for the T cell lineage, as the development of B cells, erythorocytes and myeloid cells are largely unaffected. Analysis of bone marrow chimera generated from a mixture of WT and Rictor-deficient hematopoietic stem cells demonstrated that the function of Rictor is cell-intrinsic. These data revealed a critical function of TORC2 in T-lymphopoiesis.
Altered metabolic regulation has long been observed in human cancer and broadly used in the clinic for tumor detection. Two recent findings—the direct regulation of metabolic enzymes by frequently mutated cancer genes and frequent mutations of several metabolic enzymes themselves in cancer—have renewed interest in cancer metabolism. Supporting a causative role of altered metabolic enzymes in tumorigenesis, abnormal levels of several metabolites have been found to play a direct role in cancer development. The alteration of metabolic genes and metabolites offer not only new biomarkers for diagnosis and prognosis, but also potential new targets for cancer therapy.
Tumor-associated mutations in the isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 and 2 (IDH1 and IDH2) genes result in the loss of normal catalytic activity, the production of α-ketoglutarate (α-KG), and gain of a new activity, the production of an oncometabolite, R-2-hydroxylglutarate (R-2-HG). New evidence supports previous findings that R-2-HG acts as an antagonist of α-KG to competitively inhibit the activity of multiple α-KG-dependent dioxygenases, including both histones and DNA demethylases involved in epigenetic control of gene expression and cell differentiation, and also reveals an intriguing new facet of R-2-HG in tumorigenesis.
The complex of Vacuolar Protein Sorting 34 and 15 (Vps34 and Vps15) has Class III phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase activity and putative roles in nutrient sensing, mammalian Target Of Rapamycin (mTOR) activation by amino acids, cell growth, vesicular trafficking and autophagy. Contrary to expectations, here we show that Vps15-deficient mouse tissues are competent for LC3-positive autophagosome formation and maintain mTOR activation. However, an impaired lysosomal function in mutant cells is traced by accumulation of adaptor protein p62, LC3 and Lamp2 positive vesicles, which can be reverted to normal levels after ectopic overexpression of Vps15. Mice lacking Vps15 in skeletal muscles, develop a severe myopathy. Distinct from the autophagy deficient Atg7−/− mutants, pathognomonic morphological hallmarks of autophagic vacuolar myopathy (AVM) are observed in Vps15−/− mutants, including elevated creatine kinase plasma levels, accumulation of autophagosomes, glycogen and sarcolemmal features within the fibres. Importantly, Vps34/Vps15 overexpression in myoblasts of Danon AVM disease patients alleviates the glycogen accumulation. Thus, the activity of the Vps34/Vps15 complex is critical in disease conditions such as AVMs, and possibly a variety of other lysosomal storage diseases.
autophagy; human disease; lysosomal storage disease; mouse model; mTOR signalling
Pten deletion from adult mouse hematopoietic cells activates the PI3-kinase pathway, inducing hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) proliferation, HSC depletion, and leukemogenesis. Pten is also mutated in human leukemias, but rarely in early childhood leukemias. We hypothesized that this reflects developmental changes in PI3-kinase pathway regulation. Here we show that Rictor deletion prevents leukemogenesis and HSC depletion after Pten deletion in adult mice, implicating mTORC2 activation in these processes. However, Rictor deletion had little effect on the function of normal HSCs. Moreover, Pten deletion from neonatal HSCs did not activate the PI3-kinase pathway or promote HSC proliferation, HSC depletion, or leukemogenesis. Pten is therefore required in adult, but not neonatal, HSCs to negatively regulate mTORC2 signaling. This demonstrates that some critical tumor suppressor mechanisms in adult cells are not required by neonatal cells. Developmental changes in key signaling pathways therefore confer temporal changes upon stem cell self-renewal and tumor suppressor mechanisms.
Glycogen phosphorylase (GP) catalyzes the rate-limiting step in glycogen catabolism and plays a key role in maintaining cellular and organismal glucose homeostasis. GP is the first protein whose function was discovered to be regulated by reversible protein phosphorylation, which is controlled by phosphorylase kinase (PhK) and protein phosphatase 1 (PP1). Here, we report that lysine acetylation negatively regulates GP activity by both inhibiting enzyme activity directly and promoting dephosphorylation. Acetylation of GP Lys470 enhances its interaction with the PP1 substrate targeting subunit, GL, and PP1, thereby promoting GP dephosphorylation and inactivation. We show that GP acetylation is stimulated by glucose and insulin and inhibited by glucagon. Our results provide molecular insights into the intricate regulation of the classical GP and a functional cross-talk between protein acetylation and phosphorylation.
Acetylation; phosphorylation; metabolism; insulin; glycogen phosphorylase
Naïve T cells receive stimulation from the positive selecting ligand in the periphery for their survival. This stimulation does not normally lead to overt activation of T cells, as the T cells remain largely quiescent until they receive either antigenic or lymphopenic stimuli. The underlying mechanism responsible for survival and quiescence of the naïve T cells remain largely unknown. Here we report that T cell-specific deletion of Tsc1, a negative regulator of mTOR, resulted in both spontaneous losses of quiescence and cellularity, especially within the CD8 subset. The Tsc1-deficient T cells have increased cell proliferation and apoptosis. Tsc1 deletion affects the survival and quiescence of T cells in the absence of antigenic stimulation. Loss of quiescence but not cellularity was inhibited by rapamycin. Our data demonstrate that TSC-mTOR maintains quiescence and survival of T cells.
The serine/threonine kinase ULK1 is a mammalian homolog of Atg1, part of the Atg1 kinase complex, which is the most upstream component of the core autophagy machinery conserved from yeast to mammals. In budding yeast, activity of the Atg1 kinase complex is inhibited by TORC1 (target of rapamycin complex 1), but how the counterpart ULK1 complex in mammalian cells is regulated has been unknown. Our laboratories recently discovered that AMPK associates with, and directly phosphorylates, ULK1 on several sites and this modification is required for ULK1 activation after glucose deprivation. In contrast, when nutrients are plentiful, the mTORC1 complex phosphorylates ULK1, preventing its association and activation by AMPK. These studies have revealed a molecular mechanism of ULK1 regulation by nutrient signals via the actions of AMPK and mTORC1.
autophagy; ULK1; AMPK; mTOR; 14-3-3
The control of organ size is a basic biological question. In the last several years, the Hippo signaling pathway has been delineated and shown to be critical in control of organ size in both Drosophila and mammals. Acting downstream of the Hippo pathway is the Yki/YAP/TAZ transcription co-activators. In mammalian cells, the Hippo pathway kinase cascade inhibits YAP and its paralog TAZ by phosphorylation and promotion of their cytoplasmic localization. The TEAD family transcription factors have recently been identified as evolutionarily conserved key mediators of YAP biological functions. yap is a candidate oncogene, and several other components of the Hippo pathway are tumor suppressors. Dysregulation of the Hippo pathway contributes to the loss of contact inhibition observed in cancer cells. Therefore, the Hippo-YAP pathway connects the regulation of organ size and tumorigenesis.
The target of rapamycin complex 2 (TORC2) is a key regulator of cell growth. Zinzalla et al. (2011) now provide evidence that TORC2 is activated by direct association with the ribosome, which may ensure that TORC2 activity is calibrated to match the cell’s intrinsic growth capacity.
Extensive studies during the past four decades have identified important roles for lysine acetylation in the regulation of nuclear transcription. Recent proteomic analyses on protein acetylation uncovered a large number of acetylated proteins in the cytoplasm and mitochondria, including most enzymes involved in intermediate metabolism. Acetylation regulates metabolic enzymes by multiple mechanisms, including via enzymatic activation or inhibition, and by influencing protein stability. Conversely, non-nuclear NAD+-dependent sirtuin deacetylases can regulate cellular and organismal metabolism, possibly through direct deacetylation of metabolic enzymes. Furthermore, acetylation of metabolic enzymes is highly conserved from prokaryotes to eukaryotes. Given the frequent occurrence of metabolic dysregulation in diabetes, obesity, and cancer, enzymes modulating acetylation could provide attractive targets for therapeutic intervention for these diseases.
Emerging evidence suggests that protein acetylation is a broad-ranging regulatory mechanism. Here we utilize acetyl-peptide arrays and metabolomic analyses to identify substrates of mitochondrial deacetylase Sirt3. We identified ornithine transcarbamoylase (OTC) from the urea cycle, and enzymes involved in β-oxidation. Metabolomic analyses of fasted mice lacking Sirt3 (sirt3−/−) revealed alterations in β-oxidation and the urea cycle. Biochemical analysis demonstrated that Sirt3 directly deacetylates OTC and stimulates its activity. Mice under caloric restriction (CR) increased Sirt3 protein levels, leading to deacetylation and stimulation of OTC activity. In contrast, sirt3−/− mice failed to deacetylate OTC in response to CR. Inability to stimulate OTC under CR led to a failure to reduce orotic acid levels, a known outcome of OTC deficiency. Thus, Sirt3 directly regulates OTC activity and promotes the urea cycle during CR, and the results suggest that under low energy input, Sirt3 modulates mitochondria by promoting amino-acid catabolism and β-oxidation.
Heterozygous mutations in the gene encoding isocitrate dehydrogenase-1 (IDH1) occur in certain human brain tumors, but their mechanistic role in tumor development is unknown. We have shown that tumor-derived IDH1 mutations impair the enzyme’s affinity for its substrate and dominantly inhibit wild-type IDH1 activity through the formation of catalytically inactive heterodimers. Forced expression of mutant IDH1 in cultured cells reduces formation of the enzyme product,α-ketoglutarate (α-KG), and increases the levels of hypoxia-inducible factor subunit HIF-1α, a transcription factor that facilitates tumor growth when oxygen is low and whose stability is regulated by α-KG. The rise in HIF-1α levels was reversible by an α-KG derivative. HIF-1α levels were higher in human gliomas harboring an IDH1 mutation than in tumors without a mutation. Thus, IDH1 appears to function as a tumor suppressor that, when mutationally inactivated, contributes to tumorigenesis in part through induction of the HIF-1 pathway.
Cell growth can be suppressed by stressful environments, but the role of stress pathways in this process is largely unknown. Here we show that a cascade of p38β mitogen activated protein kinase and p38 regulated/activated kinase (PRAK) plays a role in energy starvation-induced suppression of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), that energy starvation activates the p38β-PRAK cascade, and that p38β- or PRAK-deletion diminishes energy depletion-induced suppression of mTORC1 and reduction of cell size. We show that p38β-PRAK operates independent from the known mTORC1 inactivation pathways – phosphorylation of tuberous sclerosis protein 2 (TSC2) and raptor by AMP activated protein kinase (AMPK), and surprisingly, PRAK directly regulates Ras homolog enriched in brain (Rheb), a key component of the mTORC1 pathway by phosphorylation. Phosphorylation of Rheb at serine 130 by PRAK impairs Rheb’s nucleotide-binding ability and inhibits Rheb-mediated mTORC1 activation. The direct regulation of Rheb by PRAK integrates a stress pathway with the mTORC1 pathway in response to energy depletion.
Diabetic nephropathy (DN) is among the most lethal complications that occur in type 1 and type 2 diabetics. Podocyte dysfunction is postulated to be a critical event associated with proteinuria and glomerulosclerosis in glomerular diseases including DN. However, molecular mechanisms of podocyte dysfunction in the development of DN are not well understood. Here we have shown that activity of mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1), a kinase that senses nutrient availability, was enhanced in the podocytes of diabetic animals. Further, podocyte-specific mTORC1 activation induced by ablation of an upstream negative regulator (PcKOTsc1) recapitulated many DN features, including podocyte loss, glomerular basement membrane thickening, mesangial expansion, and proteinuria in nondiabetic young and adult mice. Abnormal mTORC1 activation caused mislocalization of slit diaphragm proteins and induced an epithelial-mesenchymal transition–like phenotypic switch with enhanced ER stress in podocytes. Conversely, reduction of ER stress with a chemical chaperone significantly protected against both the podocyte phenotypic switch and podocyte loss in PcKOTsc1 mice. Finally, genetic reduction of podocyte-specific mTORC1 in diabetic animals suppressed the development of DN. These results indicate that mTORC1 activation in podocytes is a critical event in inducing DN and suggest that reduction of podocyte mTORC1 activity is a potential therapeutic strategy to prevent DN.
Tumour suppressor SIRT3 deacetylates and activates manganese superoxide dismutase to scavenge ROS
Mitochondria manganese superoxide dismutase (SOD2) is a major antioxidant enzyme associated with several diseases. This study shows that SOD2 is inhibited by acetylation and activated by SIRT3-mediated deacetylation in response to reactive oxygen species (ROS).
Mitochondria manganese superoxide dismutase (SOD2) is an important antioxidant enzyme, deficiency of which is associated with various human diseases. The known primary regulation of SOD2 is through transcriptional activation. Here, we report that SOD2 is acetylated at Lys 68 and that this acetylation decreases SOD2 activity. Mitochondrial deacetylase SIRT3 binds to, deacetylates and activates SOD2. Increase of reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels stimulates SIRT3 transcription, leading to SOD2 deacetylation and activation. SOD2-mediated ROS reduction is synergistically increased by SIRT3 co-expression, but is cancelled by SIRT3 depletion. These results reveal a new post-translational regulation of SOD2 by means of acetylation and SIRT3-dependent deacetylation in response to oxidative stress.
acetylation; ROS; SIRT3; SOD2
Mechanistic target of rapamycin (MTOR) plays a critical role in the regulation of cell growth and in the response to energy state changes. Drugs inhibiting MTOR are increasingly used in antineoplastic therapies. Myocardial MTOR activity changes during hypertrophy and heart failure (HF). However, whether MTOR exerts a positive or a negative effect on myocardial function remains to be fully elucidated. Here, we show that ablation of Mtor in the adult mouse myocardium results in a fatal, dilated cardiomyopathy that is characterized by apoptosis, autophagy, altered mitochondrial structure, and accumulation of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E–binding protein 1 (4E-BP1). 4E-BP1 is an MTOR-containing multiprotein complex-1 (MTORC1) substrate that inhibits translation initiation. When subjected to pressure overload, Mtor-ablated mice demonstrated an impaired hypertrophic response and accelerated HF progression. When the gene encoding 4E-BP1 was ablated together with Mtor, marked improvements were observed in apoptosis, heart function, and survival. Our results demonstrate a role for the MTORC1 signaling network in the myocardial response to stress. In particular, they highlight the role of 4E-BP1 in regulating cardiomyocyte viability and in HF. Because the effects of reduced MTOR activity were mediated through increased 4E-BP1 inhibitory activity, blunting this mechanism may represent a novel therapeutic strategy for improving cardiac function in clinical HF.