Autophagy is essential for nutrient recycling and intracellular housekeeping in plants by removing unwanted cytoplasmic constituents, aggregated polypeptides, and damaged organelles. The autophagy-related (ATG)1-ATG13 kinase complex is an upstream regulator that integrates metabolic and environmental cues into a coherent autophagic response directed by other ATG components. Our recent studies with Arabidopsis thaliana revealed that ATG11, an accessory protein of the ATG1-ATG13 complex, acts as a scaffold that connects the complex to autophagic membranes. We showed that ATG11 encourages proper behavior of the ATG1-ATG13 complex and faithful delivery of autophagic vesicles to the vacuole, likely through its interaction with ATG8. In addition, we demonstrated that Arabidopsis mitochondria are degraded during senescence via an autophagic route that requires ATG11 and other ATG components. Together, ATG11 appears to be an important modulator of the ATG1-ATG13 complex and a multifunctional scaffold required for bulk autophagy and the selective clearance of mitochondria.
ATG11; autophagy; mitophagy; ATG1/13 complex; Arabidopsis; nutrient recycling; vacuole
DNA repair is a prerequisite for life as we know it, and defects in DNA repair lead to accelerated aging. Xeroderma pigmentosum group A (XPA) is a classic DNA repair-deficient disorder with patients displaying sun sensitivity and cancer susceptibility. XPA patients also exhibit neurodegeneration, leading to cerebellar atrophy, neuropathy, and hearing loss, through a mechanism that has remained elusive. Using in silico, in vitro, and in vivo studies, we discovered defective mitophagy in XPA due to PARP1 hyperactivation and NAD+ (and thus, SIRT1) depletion. This leads to mitochondrial membrane hyper-polarization, PINK1 cleavage and defective mitophagy. This study underscores the importance of mitophagy in promoting a healthy pool of mitochondria and in preventing neurodegeneration and premature aging.
autophagy; DNA repair; mitophagy; SIRT1; xeroderma pigmentosum group A
The phagophore membrane is highly curved along the rim of the open cup, suggesting that the molecular mechanisms governing its formation and growth could rely on membrane curvature-dependent events. To this end, we recently reported that lipidation of the LC3 protein family is facilitated on highly curved membranes in vitro. We further showed that the conjugating enzyme ATG3 contains an amphipathic helix that is responsible for this membrane curvature dependency, and that the maintenance of this amphipathic structure is essential for ATG3 function in vivo.
curvature; Atg3; lipidation; LC3; phosphatidylethanolamine
We have recently shown the roles of an autophagy gene in the regulation of metabolism and metabolic diseases. We identified Becn2/Beclin 2, a novel mammalian specific homolog of Becn1/Beclin 1, characterized the functions of the gene product in autophagy and agonist-induced lysosome-mediated downregulation of a subset of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), and proposed a model of dual functions of BECN2 in these 2 lysosomal degradation pathways. Further analyses revealed that knockout of Becn2 dramatically decreases embryonic survival in homozygotes, and leads to metabolic dysregulation in heterozygotes, which is likely caused by disruption of GPCR signaling. This finding suggests that besides autophagy, BECN/Beclin family members may play a role in the regulation of a broader spectrum of intracellular signaling pathways.
BECN2/Beclin 2; autophagy; GPCR; lysosome; metabolism
It is widely thought that prosurvival BCL2 family members not only inhibit apoptosis, but also block autophagy by directly binding to BECN1/Beclin 1. To distinguish whether BCL2, BCL2L1/BCL-XL, or MCL1 influence autophagy directly, or indirectly, through their effects on apoptosis, we compared normal cells to those lacking BAX and BAK1. In cells able to undergo mitochondria-mediated apoptosis, inhibiting the endogenous prosurvival BCL2 family members induces both autophagy and cell death, but when BAX and BAK1 are deleted, neither inhibiting nor overexpressing BCL2, BCL2L1, or MCL1 causes any detectable effect on LC3B lipidation, LC3B turnover, or autolysosome formation. These results show that prosurvival BCL2 family members influence autophagy only indirectly, by inhibiting activation of BAX and BAK1.
apoptosis; autophagy; BAK1; BAX; BCL-XL; BCL2; BCL2L1; Beclin 1; BECN1; LC3B; MCL1
Mitochondrial quality control has an impact on many diseases, but intense research has focused on the action of 2 genes linked to heritable forms of Parkinson disease (PD), PINK1 and PARK2/parkin, which act in a common pathway to promote mitophagy. However, criticism has been raised that little evidence links this mechanism to sporadic PD. To gain a greater insight into the mechanisms of PINK1-PARK2 mediated mitophagy, we undertook a genome-wide RNAi screen in Drosophila and human cell models. Strikingly, we discovered several components of the lipogenesis pathway, including SREBF1, playing a conserved role in mitophagy. Our results suggest that lipids influence the stabilization of PINK1 during the initiation of mitophagy. Importantly, SREBF1 has previously been identified as a risk locus for sporadic PD, and thus implicates aberrant mitophagy as contributing to sporadic PD. Our findings suggest a role for lipid synthesis in PINK1-PARK2 mediated mitophagy, and propose a mechanistic link between familial and sporadic PD, supporting a common etiology.
SREBF1; Parkin; FBXW7; Parkinson disease; lipids; Drosophila
Parkinson disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegenerative movement disorder characterized pathologically by abnormal SNCA/α-synuclein protein inclusions in neurons. Impaired lysosomal autophagic degradation of cellular proteins is implicated in PD pathogenesis and progression. Heterozygous GBA mutations, encoding lysosomal GBA/glucocerebrosidase (glucosidase, β, acid), are the greatest genetic risk factor for PD, and reduced GBA and SNCA accumulation are related in PD models. Here we review our recent human brain tissue study demonstrating that GBA deficits in sporadic PD are related to the early accumulation of SNCA, and dysregulation of chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA) pathways and lipid metabolism.
Parkinson disease; autophagy; ceramide; chaperone-mediated autophagy; glucocerebrosidase; lysosomes; α-synuclein
As the major lysosomal degradation pathway, autophagy represents the guardian of cellular homeostasis, removing damaged and potentially harmful material and replenishing energy reserves in conditions of starvation. Given its vast physiological importance, autophagy is crucially involved in the process of aging and associated pathologies. Although the regulation of autophagy strongly depends on nutrient availability, specific metabolites that modulate autophagic responses are poorly described. Recently, we revealed nucleo-cytosolic acetyl-coenzyme A (AcCoA) as a phylogenetically conserved inhibitor of starvation-induced and age-associated autophagy. AcCoA is the sole acetyl-group donor for protein acetylation, explaining why pharmacological or genetic manipulations that modify the concentrations of nucleo-cytosolic AcCoA directly affect the levels of protein acetylation. The acetylation of histones and cytosolic proteins inversely correlates with the rate of autophagy in yeast and mammalian cells, respectively, despite the fact that the routes of de novo AcCoA synthesis differ across phyla. Thus, we propose nucleo-cytosolic AcCoA to act as a conserved metabolic rheostat, linking the cellular metabolic state to the regulation of autophagy via effects on protein acetylation.
autophagy; aging; acetyl-coenzyme A; histone acetylation; transcription; epigenetics; ATG
The conserved Ser/Thr kinase Atg1/ULK1 plays a crucial role in the regulation of autophagy. However, only very few Atg1 targets have been identified, impeding elucidation of the mechanisms by which Atg1 regulates autophagy. In our study, we determined the Saccharomyces cerevisiae Atg1 consensus phosphorylation sequence using a peptide array-based approach. Among proteins containing this sequence we identified Atg9, another essential component of the autophagic machinery. We showed that phosphorylation of Atg9 by Atg1 is required for phagophore elongation, shedding light on the mechanism by which Atg1 regulates early steps of autophagy.
Atg1/ULK1 kinase; Atg18/WIPI2; Atg8; Atg9; Cvt pathway; 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
The conjugation of the small ubiquitin (Ub)-like protein Atg8 to autophagic membranes is a key step during the expansion of phagophores. This reaction is driven by 2 interconnected Ub-like conjugation systems. The second system conjugates the Ub-like protein Atg12 to Atg5. The resulting conjugate catalyzes the covalent attachment of Atg8 to membranes. Atg12–Atg5, however, constitutively associates with the functionally less well-characterized coiled-coil protein Atg16. By reconstituting the conjugation of Atg8 to membranes in vitro, we showed that after Atg8 has been attached to phosphatidylethanolamine (PE), it recruits Atg12–Atg5 to membranes by recognizing a noncanonical Atg8-interacting motif (AIM) within Atg12. Atg16 crosslinks Atg8–PE-Atg12–Atg5 complexes to form a continuous 2-dimensional membrane scaffold with meshwork-like architecture. Apparently, scaffold formation is required to generate productive autophagosomes and to deliver autophagic cargo to the vacuole in vivo.
macroautophagy; Atg8; conjugation; reconstitution; membrane scaffold
Mitophagy is a degradative process that adapts the quantity and quality of mitochondria to the cellular needs. Mitochondria destined for degradation are marked by specific receptors that recruit the core autophagic machinery to the organellar surface. The organelle is then enclosed by a phagophore (PG) which fuses with the lysosome or vacuole where the mitochondrion is degraded. In spite of significant progress in recent years, several parts of the molecular machinery of mitophagy remain unknown. We used yeast as a model organism to screen for novel components and identified the mitochondria-ER tether ERMES (ER-mitochondria encounter structure) as a major player contributing to mitophagy and formation of mitophagosomes. Tethering of mitochondria to the ER appears to be important to supply the growing PG with lipids synthesized in the ER.
endoplasmic reticulum; ERMES; isolation membrane; mitochondria; mitophagosome; mitophagy; organelle contact site; Saccharomyces cerevisiae
Like other selective autophagy pathways, the selective autophagy of peroxisomes, pexophagy, is controlled by receptor protein complexes (RPCs). The pexophagic RPC in Pichia pastoris consists of several proteins: Pex3 and Pex14 ligands in the peroxisomal membrane, Atg30 receptor, Atg11, and Atg17 scaffolds, and the phagophore protein Atg8. Recently, we identified a new component of the pexophagic RPC, Atg37, which is involved in the assembly of this complex. Atg37 is an integral peroxisomal membrane protein (PMP) that binds Pex3 and Atg30, but not Pex14 or Atg8. In the absence of Atg37, the recognition of Pex3 and recruitment of Atg17 by Atg30 are normal. However, the recruitment of Atg11 is severely affected suggesting that the role of Atg37 is to facilitate the Atg30-Atg11 interaction. Palmitoyl-CoA competes with Atg30 for the acyl-CoA binding domain of Atg37 in vitro and might regulate the dynamics of the pexophagic RPC in vivo. The human counterpart of Atg37, ACBD5, also localizes to peroxisomes and is specifically required for pexophagy. Therefore, it is tempting to speculate that ACBD5/ATG37 regulates the assembly of the pexophagic RPC in mammalian cells.
ACBD5; acyl-CoA binding; Atg30; Atg37; autophagy-related protein; palmitoyl-CoA; peroxisomal membrane protein; peroxisome; pexophagy; receptor protein complex
KIAA1524/CIP2A/cancerous inhibitor of protein phosphatase 2A is a cancer-promoting protein that stabilizes the MYC proto-oncogene protein by inhibiting its dephosphorylation. Our recent report demonstrates that KIAA1524/CIP2A supports cancer cell growth also at the level of the mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (MTORC1), a key signaling module that drives cell growth by stimulating protein synthesis and inhibiting autophagy. KIAA1524/CIP2A suppresses MTORC1-associated protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) activity in an allosteric manner thereby stabilizing the phosphorylation of MTORC1 substrates and keeping the cell in an anabolic mode. In the absence of growth stimulating signals or nutrients, reduced MTORC1 activity triggers SQSTM1/p62-dependent autophagic degradation of KIAA1524/CIP2A enhancing the PP2A-mediated dephosphorylation of MTORC1 substrates and MYC. Thus, KIAA1524/CIP2A emerges as an oncoprotein that can coordinate the growth-promoting activities of MTORC1 and MYC in response to environmental and intrinsic cues.
autophagy; CIP2A; phosphatase; Myc; cancer
While the cell imposes multiple barriers to virus entry, enveloped viruses are remarkably still able to gain entry to their cellular hosts by hitchhiking and remodeling the endomembrane system to traffic within, and eventually escape from, endosomal organelles for their genome release. Elucidating viral entry mechanisms and their interaction with the host trafficking network is necessary for antiviral therapy. Here, we focus on the use of host autophagy molecular factors during the entry of prototypic negative-stranded RNA viruses, and highlight recent progress in our understanding of the role of one such factor, UVRAG, in both viral and cellular endocytic membrane trafficking and fusion events.
autophagy; class C Vps complex; SNAREs; UVRAG; virus entry
Autophagy is essential for cellular homeostasis and its dysfunction in human diseases has been implicated in the accumulation of misfolded protein and in cellular toxicity. We have recently shown impairment in autophagic flux in the lipid storage disorder, Niemann-Pick type C1 (NPC1) disease associated with abnormal cholesterol sequestration, where maturation of autophagosomes is impaired due to defective amphisome formation caused by failure in SNARE machinery. Abrogation of autophagy also causes cholesterol accumulation, suggesting that defective autophagic flux in NPC1 disease may act as a primary causative factor not only by imparting its deleterious effects, but also by increasing cholesterol load. However, cholesterol depletion treatment with HP-β-cyclodextrin impedes autophagy, whereas pharmacologically stimulating autophagy restores its function independent of amphisome formation. Of potential therapeutic relevance is that a low dose of HP-β-cyclodextrin that does not perturb autophagy, coupled with an autophagy inducer, may rescue both the cholesterol and autophagy defects in NPC1 disease.
lipid storage disorder; Niemann-Pick disease; cholesterol; lysosomal storage disorder; autophagy enhancer; autophagic flux; amphisome
Autophagy defects resulting in inflammation appear to be a key feature in the pathogenesis of Crohn colitis. An inflammatory colitis indistinguishable from Crohn disease is described in patients with chronic granulomatous disease (CGD). Patients with CGD have a mutated NADPH complex and are therefore deficient in reactive oxygen species (ROS) production; however, the underlying mechanism for the inflammatory colitis in CGD remained unknown. In a recent study, our group reported that NADPH-dependent ROS deficiency results in autophagic dysfunction that subsequently contributes to increased IL1B/interleukin 1β production. Mice deficient in the NADPH-complex component NCF4/p40phox, and CGD patients with a defect in NCF4 display minimal recruitment of LC3 to phagosomes in response to internalized bacteria and fungi. Human monocytes from patients with CGD with defective LC3 recruitment show increased IL1B production after LPS stimulation. Blocking IL1 protects NCF4-deficient mice from experimental colitis; importantly, improved clinical outcome in 2 CGD patients with colitis is also observed with IL1 blockade. Moreover, blocking IL1 restores defective autophagy in CGD mice and cells from patients with CGD. Thus, autophagic dysfunction underlies the pathogenesis of granulomatous colitis in CGD, and blocking IL1 can be used to treat CGD colitis.
interleukin-1; CGD; aspergillosis; colitis; Crohn disease; inflammation; LC3-associated phagocytosis
The multifaceted process of aging inevitably leads to disturbances in cellular metabolism and protein homeostasis. To meet this challenge, cells make use of autophagy, which is probably one of the most important pathways preserving cellular protection under stressful conditions. Thus, efficient autophagic flux is required for healthy aging in many if not all eukaryotic organisms. The regulation of autophagy itself is affected by changing metabolic conditions, but the precise metabolic circuitries are poorly understood. Recently, we found that the nucleocytosolic pool of acetyl-coenzyme A (AcCoA) functions as a major and dominant suppressor of cytoprotective autophagy during aging. Here, we propose an epigenetic mechanism for AcCoA-mediated autophagy suppression that causally involves the regulation of histone acetylation and changes in the autophagy-relevant transcriptome.
acetyl-coenzyme A; aging; ATG; autophagy; epigenetic; histone acetylation; transcription
The MB21D1/cGAS (Mab-21 domain-containing 1/cyclic GMP-AMP [cGAMP] synthetase), acts as an intracellular pattern recognition receptor (PPR) to sense cytosolic pathogen DNAs and subsequently generates the second messenger cGAMP to initiate the TMEM173/STING pathway for interferon (IFN) production. Intriguingly, we have recently demonstrated crosstalk between the intracellular DNA sensing pathway and autophagy machinery by demonstrating a direct interaction between the MB21D1 DNA sensor and the BECN1/Beclin 1 autophagy protein. This interaction not only suppresses MB21D1 enzymatic activity to halt cGAMP production, but also enhances the autophagy-mediated degradation of cytosolic microbial DNAs. This demonstrates that MB21D1 is the molecular link between the intracellular DNA sensing pathway and the autophagy pathway, ultimately developing well-balanced immune responses against pathogens.
cGAS; Beclin 1; autophagy; interferon
Ischemic injury to the kidneys is a prevalent clinical problem, contributing importantly to chronic kidney disease. Yet, underlying molecular mechanisms are elusive. To address the possible role of autophagy, we engineered a novel strain of mice harboring a ubiquitously expressed CAG-RFP-EGFP-LC3 transgene. Using this tool, we examined the post-ischemic kidney and detailed the dynamics of renal tubular epithelial autophagy. In addition, we defined the role of MTOR in the resolution of autophagy during epithelial survival and kidney repair.
renal epithelial cells; dymanics; ischemic injury; renal repair; tandem fluorescence
We have reported previously that autophagy is responsible for amyloid precursor protein-C-terminal fragment (APP-CTF) degradation and therefore Aβ clearance. To elucidate the underlying mechanism, using LC3 affinity purification and mass spectrometry analysis, immunoprecipitation (IP), as well as live imaging analysis, we identified and demonstrated that the adaptor-related protein complex 2 (AP2) and PICALM (phosphatidylinositol binding clathrin assembly protein) are in a complex with LC3 and APP-CTF. Taken together, this new set of data suggests that the AP2-PICALM complex functions as an autophagic cargo receptor for the recognition and shipment of APP-CTF from the endocytic pathway to the LC3-dependent autophagic degradation pathway. Interestingly this AP2-LC3 connection seems to be involved in chemically-induced APP-CTF clearance as we observed using the small compound SMER28. The effect observed following SMER28 was significantly reduced after silencing AP2. While more work is required to elucidate the detailed molecular mechanisms involved, our actual data suggest that there is some level of specificity in the steps mentioned above.
autophagy receptor; LC3; endocytosis; endosome; autophagosome; APP; beta-amyloid; Alzheimer disease; AP2; PICALM
The highly invasive and chemoresistant phenotype of pancreatic cancer highlights the urgency to identify prognostic biomarkers and novel therapeutic targets. Recently, we observed a significant correlation between shorter survival and loss of the cytoband 18q22.3. Here we investigated genes encoded by this cytoband, and demonstrated the prognostic value of CYB5A in resected and metastatic patients. Furthermore, our in vitro and in vivo studies clarified CYB5A inhibitory activity of oncogenic phenotypes through autophagy induction. This raises the possibility that inhibition of CYB5A-deregulated downstream pathways, such as those involving TRAF6, may favor autophagy-mediated cancer cell death in selected subgroups of patients.
pancreatic cancer; 18q22.3 cytoband; prognosis; CYB5A; TRAF6
NADPH oxidase is a cellular enzyme devoted to the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). NOX4 and NOX2 are the main isoforms of NADPH oxidase in the cardiovascular system. In our recent study, we demonstrated that NOX4, but not NOX2, is a critical mediator of the cardiomyocyte adaptive response to energy stress. NOX4 activity and protein levels are increased in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) but not in mitochondria of cardiomyocytes during the early phase of energy deprivation. NOX4-derived production of ROS in the ER is a critical event that activates autophagy through stimulation of the EIF2AK3/PERK-EIF2S1/eIF-2α-ATF4 pathway. NOX4-dependent autophagy is an important mechanism to preserve cellular energy and limit cell death in energy-deprived cardiomyocytes. Aside from elucidating a crucial physiological function of NOX4 during cellular energy stress, our study dissects a novel signaling mechanism that regulates autophagy under this condition.
autophagy; oxidative stress; endoplasmic reticulum; glucose deprivation; Nox4; PERK
Plant seedlings are not photoautotrophs until they are equipped with photosynthetic machinery. Some plant cells are remodeled after being exposed to light, and a group of peroxisomal proteins are degraded during the remodeling. Autophagy was proposed as one of the mechanisms for the degradation of peroxisomal proteins. We recently showed that ATG7-dependent autophagy is partially responsible for the degradation of obsolete peroxisomal proteins during Arabidopsis seedling growth.
pexophagy; degradation; hypocotyl; autophagosome; ATG; autophagy-related
The autophagy core machinery is essentially conserved in eukaryotic cells for autophagy regulation. However, the underlying mechanisms for autophagosome formation in plant cells remain elusive. We have recently demonstrated that SH3 domain-containing protein 2 (SH3P2), a BAR (Bin-Amphiphysin-Rvs) domain protein, functions as a novel regulator for autophagosome biogenesis in Arabidopsis thaliana. Using SH3P2 and its GFP fusion as probes, we have characterized the dynamics and structures of autophagosome formation in plant cells. The phagophore assembly site, marked by SH3P2, is identified as having a close connection with the ER. SH3P2 also binds to phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate (PtdIns3P) and functions downstream of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PtdIns3K) complex. Thus, SH3P2 serves as a novel membrane-associated protein in regulating autophagosome formation in Arabidopsis thaliana.
Bin-Amphiphysin-Rvs domain; phagophore assembly site; phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase; phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate; plant autophagosome formation; SH3 domain-containing protein