The link between the deregulation of autophagy and cell death processes can be essential in the development of several neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson disease (PD). However, the molecular mechanism of deregulation of this degradative process in PD patients is unknown. The leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) gene is related to PD and its implication in autophagy regulation has been described. Our recent work shows that the presence of the G2019S LRRK2 mutation, one of the most prevalent in LRRK2, is accompanied by a deregulation of autophagy basal levels dependent on the MAPK1/3 (ERK2/1) pathway.
autophagy; LRRK2; G2019S; MAPK1/3; Parkinson disease
The mechanistic target of rapamycin (MTOR) has been implicated in regulating synaptic plasticity and neurodegeneration, but MTOR’s role in modulating presynaptic function through autophagy is unexplored. We studied presynaptic function in ventral dopamine neurons, a system from which neurotransmitter release can be measured directly by cyclic voltammetry. We generated mutant mice that were specifically deficient for macroautophagy in dopaminergic neurons by deleting the Atg7 gene in cells that express the dopamine uptake transporter. Dopamine axonal profiles in the mutant dorsal striatum were ~one third larger in the mutant mice, released ~50% more stimulus-evoked dopamine release, and exhibited more rapid presynaptic recovery than controls. Rapamycin reduced dopamine neuron axon profile size by ~30% in control mice, but had no effect on macroautophagy deficient axons. Acute rapamycin decreased dopaminergic synaptic vesicle density by ~25% and inhibited evoked dopamine release by ~25% in control mice, but not in the Atg7 deficient mutants. Thus, both basal and induced macroautophagy can provide a brake on presynaptic activity in vivo, perhaps by regulating the turnover of synaptic vesicles, and further regulates terminal volume and the kinetics of transmitter release.
macroautophagy; MTOR; dopamine; neurotransmission; striatum; ATG7; 5-hydroxydopamine; vesicles; voltammetry
The very high mortality rate of gliomas reflects the unmet therapeutic need associated with this type of brain tumor. We have discovered that the plasma membrane fulfills a critical role in the propagation of tumorigenic signals, whereby changes in membrane lipid content can either activate or silence relevant pathways. We have designed a synthetic fatty acid, 2-hydroxyoleic acid (2OHOA), that specifically activates sphingomyelin synthase (SGMS), thereby modifying the lipid content of cancer cell membranes and restoring lipid levels to those found in normal cells. In reverting, the structure of the membrane by activating SGMS, 2OHOA inhibits the RAS-MAPK pathway, which in turn fails to activate the CCND (Cyclin D)-CDK4/CDK6 and PI3K-AKT1 pathways. The overall result in SF767 cancer cells, a line that is resistant to apoptosis, is the sequential induction of cell cycle arrest, cell differentiation and autophagy. Such effects are not observed in normal cells (MRC-5) and thus, this specific activation of programmed cell death infers greater efficacy and lower toxicity to 2OHOA than that associated with temozolomide (TMZ), the reference drug for the treatment of glioma.
minerval; cancer; cell membrane; signaling; lipid bilayer and proliferation; phospholipid
Atherosclerosis commonly causes coronary and cerebrovascular diseases, which are major morbidities worldwide. Controlling these conditions remains a challenge owing to an incomplete understanding of underlying molecular mechanisms. We have recently shown that PPM1D/WIP1 phosphatase plays a crucial role in regulating atherosclerosis in mice. Deletion of Ppm1d results in the suppression of lipid droplet accumulation in macrophages, which prevents the formation of foam cells, and ultimately the development of atherosclerotic plaques. This process is controlled by the ATM-MTOR pathway and depends on the activation of selective autophagy to regulate cholesterol efflux from macrophage foam cells. Our data suggest that modulating autophagy through the PPM1D-ATM-MTOR pathway may be beneficial at both early and advanced stages of atherosclerosis.
WIP1 phosphatase; ATM; MTOR; autophagy; macrophage foam cells; atherosclerosis; cholesterol efflux
Low vitamin D levels in human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV) infected persons are associated with more rapid disease progression and increased risk for Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. We report that physiological concentrations of 1α,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol (1,25D3), the active form of vitamin D, inhibits M. tuberculosis and HIV replication in co-infected macrophages through human cathelicidin microbial peptide-dependent autophagy that requires phagosomal maturation. These findings provide a biological explanation for the importance of vitamin D sufficiency in HIV and M. tuberculosis-infected persons, and provide new insights into novel approaches to prevent and treat HIV infection and related opportunistic infections.
vitamin D; HIV; Mycobacterium tuberculosis; Mtb; autophagy; autophagosome; cathelicidin; CAMP; ATG5; BECN1
Mitochondrial division is mediated by the conserved dynamin-related GTPase DNM1L/DRP1. DNM1L assembles onto the surface of mitochondria and constricts this tubular organelle. Alterations in mitochondrial division are linked to many neurodegenerative diseases. However, the in vivo function of mitochondrial division is poorly understood. In our recent paper, we studied the physiological role of mitochondrial division in postmitotic neurons using the cre-loxP system. We found that the loss of DNM1L resulted in increased oxidative damage in mitochondria, impaired respiration and neurodegeneration in postmitotic neurons. Suggesting a decrease in mitochondrial turnover, mitophagy-related proteins such as LC3, SQSTM1/p62 and ubiqutin accumulated in division-defective mitochondria. These findings suggest that mitochondrial division functions as an important quality control mechanism that suppresses oxidative damage and neurodegeneration in vivo
mitochondrial division; DNM1L/DRP1; neurodegeneration; oxidative stress; mitophagy; parkin
Lys05 is a previously undescribed dimeric chloroquine which more potently accumulates in the lysosome and blocks autophagy compared with HCQ. Lys05 produced more potent antitumor activity as a single agent both in vitro and in vivo in multiple human cancer cell lines and xenograft models compared with HCQ. Initial structure-activity relationship studies demonstrated that the increased activity associated with Lys05 was due to the bivalent aminoquinoline rings, C7-Chlorine, and a short triamine linker. While lower doses of Lys05 were well tolerated and associated with antitumor activity, at the highest dose tested, Lys05 produced Paneth cell dysfunction and intestinal toxicity, similar to what can be observed in mice and humans with genetic defects in the autophagy gene ATG16L1. Lys05 is therefore a new lysosomal autophagy inhibitor that has potential to be developed further into a drug for cancer and other medical applications.
antimalarial; autophagy; autophagy deficiency; autophagy inhibitor; chloroquine
Different from unicellular organisms, metazoan cells require the presence of extracellular growth factors to utilize environmental nutrients. However, the underlying mechanism was unclear. We have delineated a pathway, in which glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3) in cells deprived of growth factors phosphorylates and activates the acetyltransferase KAT5/TIP60, which in turn stimulates the protein kinase ULK1 to elicit autophagy. Cells with the Kat5/Tip60 gene replaced with Kat5S86A that cannot be phosphorylated by GSK3 are resistant to serum starvation-induced autophagy. Acetylation sites on ULK1 were mapped to K162 and K606, and the acetylation-defective mutant ULK1K162,606R displays reduced kinase activity and fails to rescue autophagy in Ulk1−/− mouse embryonic fibroblasts, indicating that acetylation is vital to the activation of ULK1. The GSK3-KAT5-ULK1 cascade seems to be specific for cells to sense growth factors, as KAT5 phosphorylation is not enhanced under glucose deprivation. Distinct from the glucose starvation-autophagy pathway that is conserved in all eukaryotic organisms, the growth factor deprivation response pathway is perhaps unique to metazoan organisms.
GSK3; Tip60; Ulk1; acetylation; autophagy; growth factor; phosphorylation
Autophagy plays key roles both in host defense against bacterial infection and in tumor biology. Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection causes chronic gastritis and is the single most important risk factor for the development of gastric cancer in humans. Its vacuolating cytotoxin (VacA) promotes gastric colonization and is associated with more severe disease. Acute exposure to VacA initially triggers host autophagy to mitigate the effects of the toxin in epithelial cells. Recently, we demonstrated that chronic exposure to VacA leads to the formation of defective autophagosomes that lack CTSD/cathepsin D and have reduced catalytic activity. Disrupted autophagy results in accumulation of reactive oxygen species and SQSTM1/p62 both in vitro and in vivo in biopsy samples from patients infected with VacA+ but not VacA- strains. We also determined that the Crohn disease susceptibility polymorphism in the essential autophagy gene ATG16L1 increases susceptibility to H. pylori infection. Furthermore, peripheral blood monocytes from individuals with the ATG16L1 risk variant show impaired autophagic responses to VacA exposure. This is the first study to identify both a host autophagy susceptibility gene for H. pylori infection and to define the mechanism by which the autophagy pathway is affected following H. pylori infection. Collectively, these findings highlight the synergistic effects of host and bacterial autophagy factors on H. pylori pathogenesis and the potential for subsequent cancer susceptibility.
H. pylori; ATG16L1; VacA; autophagy; gastric cancer
Mutations in ATP13A2 (PARK9) cause an autosomal recessive form of early-onset parkinsonism with pyramidal degeneration and dementia called Kufor-Rakeb Syndrome (KRS). The ATP13A2 gene encodes a transmembrane lysosomal P5-type ATPase (ATP13A2) whose physiological function in mammalian cells, and hence its potential role in Parkinson disease (PD), remains elusive. In this context, we have recently shown that KRS-linked mutations in ATP13A2 leads to several lysosomal alterations in ATP13A2 KRS patient-derived fibroblasts, including impaired lysosomal acidification, decreased proteolytic processing of lysosomal enzymes, reduced degradation of lysosomal substrates and diminished lysosomal-mediated clearance of autophagosomes (AP). Similar alterations are observed in stable ATP13A2-knockdown dopaminergic cell lines, which are associated with cell death. Restoration of ATP13A2 levels in ATP13A2-mutant/depleted cells is able to restore lysosomal function and attenuate cell death. Relevant to PD, we have determined that ATP13A2 levels are decreased in dopaminergic nigral neurons from sporadic PD patients. Interestingly in these patients, the main signal of ATP13A2 is detected in the Lewy bodies. Our results unravel an instrumental role of ATP13A2 in lysosomal function and in cell viability. Altogether, our results validate ATP13A2 as a likely therapeutic target against PD degeneration.
ATP13A2; Parkinson disease; autophagy; lysosome; neurodegeneration
UVRAG is a promoter of the autophagy pathway, and its deficiency may fuel the development of cancers. Intriguingly, our recent study has demonstrated that this protein also mediates the repair of damaged DNA and patrols centrosome stability, mechanisms that commonly prevent cancer progression, in a manner independent of its role in autophagy signaling. Given the central role of UVRAG in genomic stability and autophagic cleaning, it is speculated that UVRAG is a bona fide genome protector and that the decrease in UVRAG seen in some cancers may render these cells vulnerable to chromosomal damage, making UVRAG an appealing target for cancer therapy.
DNA damage repair; DNA-PK; UVRAG; centrosome; genomic integrity
Accumulating evidence attests to a prosurvival role for autophagy under stress, by facilitating removal of damaged proteins and organelles and recycling basic building blocks, which can be utilized for energy generation and targeted macromolecular synthesis to shore up cellular defenses. These observations are difficult to reconcile with the dichotomous prosurvival and death-inducing roles ascribed to macroautophagy in cardiac ischemia and reperfusion injury, respectively. A careful reexamination of ‘flux’ through the macroautophagy pathway reveals that autophagosome clearance is markedly impaired with reperfusion (reoxygenation) in cardiomyocytes following an ischemic (hypoxic) insult, resulting from reactive oxygen species (ROS)-mediated decline in LAMP2 and increase in BECN1 abundance. This results in impaired autophagy that is ‘ineffective’ in protecting against cell death with ischemia-reperfusion injury. Restoration of autophagosome clearance and by inference, ‘adequate’ autophagy, attenuates reoxygenation-induced cell death.
BECN1; LAMP2; autophagic flux; cell death; ischemia-reperfusion; reactive oxygen species
Autophagy is a conserved and highly regulated catabolic pathway, transferring cytoplasmic components in autophagosomes to lysosomes for degradation and providing amino acids during starvation. In multicellular organisms autophagy plays an important role for tissue homeostasis, and deregulation of autophagy has been implicated in a broad range of diseases, including cancer and neurodegenerative disorders. In mammals, many aspects of autophagy still need to be fully elucidated: what is the exact hierarchy and relationship between ATG proteins and other factors that lead to the formation and expansion of phagophores? Where does the membrane source for autophagosome formation originate? Which signaling events trigger amino acid starvation-induced autophagy? How are the activities of ULK1/2 and the class III PtdIns3K regulated and linked to each other? To develop therapeutic strategies to manipulate autophagy in human disease, a comprehensive understanding of the molecular protein machinery mediating and regulating autophagy is required.
BECN1; FEZ1; SCOC; UVRAG; Ulk1; WAC; siGenome screen
Autophagy plays an important role in cellular survival by resupplying cells with nutrients during starvation or by clearing misfolded proteins and damaged organelles and thereby preventing degenerative diseases. Conversely, the autophagic process is also recognized as a cellular death mechanism. The circumstances that determine whether autophagy has a beneficial or a detrimental role in cellular survival are currently unclear. We recently showed that autophagy induction is detrimental in neurons that lack a functional AMPK enzyme (AMP-activated protein kinase) and that suffer from severe metabolic stress. We further demonstrated that autophagy and AMPK are interconnected in a negative feedback loop that prevents excessive and destructive stimulation of the autophagic process. Finally, we uncovered a new survival mechanism in AMPK-deficient neurons—cell cannibalism.
AMPK; Drosophila; autophagy; cell death; croquemort; metabolism; neurodegeneration; phagocytosis; photoreceptor
Epidemiological data indicate that consuming diets that deliver sugar to the blood rapidly (called high glycemic index, GI) is associated with enhanced risk for age-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cataract and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). These debilities are associated with accumulation of toxic protein aggregates as observed in other protein precipitation or amyloid diseases including Alzheimer, Parkinson and Huntington diseases and encephalopathies. Barriers to recommending lower-GI diets to promote health include the absence of established intracellular biochemical mechanisms that link high-GI diets to compromised homeostasis. The data herein corroborate the epidemiological findings and provide platforms to elucidate additional mechanistic aspects of salutary effects of consuming diets of different GIs. They are also useful for testing drugs, including autophagy enhancers, glycemia regulators, or nutraceuticals, which can be exploited to extend health.
aging; autophagy; carbohydrate; diet; disease; glycation; glycemic index; lysosome; proteolysis; sugar; ubiquitin
Proline dehydrogenase (oxidase, PRODH/POX), the first enzyme in the pathway of proline catabolism, has been identified as a mitochondrial, metabolic tumor suppressor, which is downregulated in a variety of human tumors. However, our recent findings show that PRODH/POX is upregulated by hypoxia in vitro and in vivo. The combination of low glucose and hypoxia produces additive effects on PRODH/POX expression. Both hypoxia and glucose depletion enhance PRODH/POX expression through AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) activation to promote tumor cell survival. Nevertheless, the mechanisms underlying PRODH/POX prosurvival functions are different for hypoxia and low-glucose conditions. Glucose depletion with or without hypoxia elevates PRODH/POX and proline utilization to supply ATP for cellular energy needs. Interestingly, under hypoxia PRODH/POX induces protective autophagy by generating reactive oxygen species (ROS). AMPK is the main initiator of stress-triggered autophagy. Thus, PRODH/POX acts as a downstream effector of AMPK in the activation of autophagy under hypoxia. This regulation was confirmed to be independent of the mechanistic target of rapamycin (MTOR) pathway, a major downstream target of AMPK signaling.
apoptosis; autophagy; hypoxia; metabolic stress; proline dehydrogenase/oxidase
The molecular mechanism regulating the cardiomyocyte response to energy stress has been a hot topic in cardiac research in recent years, since this mechanism could be targeted for treatment of patients with ischemic heart disease. We have shown recently that the activity of RAS homolog enriched in brain (RHEB), a small GTP binding protein, is inhibited in response to glucose deprivation (GD) in cardiomyocytes and ischemia in the mouse heart. This is a physiological adaptation, since it inhibits complex 1 of the mechanistic target of rapamycin (MTORC1) and activates autophagy, thereby promoting cell survival during GD and prolonged ischemia. Importantly, the physiological inhibition of RHEB-MTORC1 signaling during myocardial ischemia is impaired in the presence of obesity and metabolic syndrome caused by high-fat diet (HFD) feeding, leading to a dramatic increase in ischemic injury. Although MTORC1 and autophagy can be regulated through RHEB-independent mechanisms, such as the AMPK-dependent phosphorylation of RPTOR and ULK1, RHEB appears to be critical in the regulation of MTORC1 and autophagy during ischemia in cardiomyocytes, and its dysregulation is relevant to human disease. Here we discuss the biological relevance of the dysregulation of RHEB-MTORC1 signaling and the suppression of autophagy in obesity and metabolic syndrome.
MTOR; Rheb; autophagy; ischemia; metabolic syndrome; obesity
The coiled-coil domain of BECN1 serves as a protein interaction platform to recruit two major autophagy regulators ATG14 and UVRAG. Our crystal structure of the BECN1 coiled-coil domain reveals a homodimer with an imperfect dimer interface. This “imperfect” feature favors the formation of a stable BECN1-ATG14 or BECN1-UVRAG heterodimer over a metastable BECN1 homodimer to promote autophagy and/or endocytic pathways.
autophagy; BECN1; ATG14; UVRAG; coiled-coil domain
Fibroblasts from long-lived pituitary dwarf mutants, including Snell dwarf, Ames dwarf and the growth hormone receptor knockout (GHRKO) mice, are resistant in culture to multiple forms of lethal stress. We found that fibroblasts from Snell dwarf and GHRKO mice are more susceptible than control cells to autophagy induced by amino acid withdrawal or by oxidative stress. We also found evidence for lower MTOR function in dwarf cells under conditions that induce autophagy, consistent with the evidence that increased autophagy requires lower TOR activity. Our results provide new hints about the connections between autophagy and aging in long-lived mutants with alterations in GH-IGF1 levels, and suggest a role for hyperactive autophagy in the resistance of cells from these mice to lethal stresses.
GHRKO; aging; amino acid deprivation; autophagy; dwarf; fibroblast; oxidative stress
Several intracellular pathogens have the ability to avoid or exploit the otherwise destructive process of autophagy. RNA viruses are constantly confronted with cellular autophagy, and several of them hijack autophagy during the infectious cycle to improve their own replication. Nevertheless, our knowledge of viral molecular strategies used to manipulate autophagy remains limited. Our study allowed the identification of molecular interactions between 44 autophagy-associated proteins and 83 viral proteins belonging to five different RNA virus families. This interactome revealed that the autophagy network machinery is highly targeted by RNA viruses. Interestingly, whereas some autophagy-associated proteins are targeted by only one RNA virus family, others are recurrent targets of several families. Among them, we found IRGM as the most targeted autophagy-associated protein. Downregulation of IRGM expression prevents autophagy induction by measles virus, HCV and HIV-1, and compromises viral replication. Our work combined interactomic and analytical approaches to identify potential pathogen virulence factors targeting autophagy.
autophagy; network; interactome; RNA viruses; measles virus
Autophagy allows the elimination of superfluous or damaged macromolecules or organelles. Genetic evidence indicates that autophagy plays essential functions during differentiation. The differentiation of human blood monocytes into macrophages is a caspase-dependent process triggered by colony stimulating factor1 (CSF1/CSF-1). We have established, using pharmacological inhibitors, siRNA approaches and Atg7−/− mice, that autophagy is required for proper CSF1/CSF-1-driven differentiation of human and murine monocytes and acquisition of phagocytic functions. Collectively, these findings highlight an essential role of autophagy during monocyte differentiation and acquisition of macrophage functions. Deciphering the complex interplay between caspase and autophagy that occurs during this process will undoubtedly bring new insights in our understanding of monocyte differentiation.
caspase; autophagy; differentiation; primary monocytes; CSF1/CSF-1; Atg7−/− mice
Recent research suggests that microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3B (LC3B) confers protection against hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension (HPH) by inhibiting proliferation of pulmonary artery (PA) wall cells. We recently demonstrated that 17β-estradiol (E2), a sex hormone with known protective properties in HPH, increases lung LC3-II expression in chronically hypoxic male Sprague-Dawley rats. Stimulatory E2 effects on LC3-II were recapitulated in isolated hypoxic (1% O2 for 48 h), but not room air-exposed primary rat PA endothelial cells (PAECs), and were accompanied by hypoxia-specific inhibitory effects on other parameters involved in proproliferative signaling (MAPK3/ERK1-MAPK1/ERK2 activation, VEGF secretion), as well as inhibitory effects on PAEC proliferation. Taken together, these results suggest that E2 mediates hypoxia-specific antiproliferative effects in PAECs, and that stimulation of autophagy may be one of the underlying mechanisms of E2-mediated protection in HPH. Viewed in the context of previously published data, these results indicate that LC3 1) exerts protective effects in the pathogenesis of HPH, and 2) may represent a potential target for future therapeutic interventions in HPH.
17-beta estradiol; estrogen; hypoxia; pulmonary artery endothelial cells; pulmonary vascular remodeling; cell proliferation; MAPK3/ERK1; MAPK1/ERK2
Intra-hepatic cholangiocarcinoma (IHCC) is a primary cancer of the liver that shares histological features with the hepatic bile ducts from which it is thought to arise. The incidence of this disease is increasing, possibly related to increased inflammatory liver diseases such as viral hepatitis and steatohepatitis (commonly called “fatty liver”), induced by obesity, diabetes, and other metabolic derangements. Its prognosis is generally poor with early metastasis and presently there are limited effective treatments. A basic understanding of the disease has long been hampered by limited tumor cell lines and good model systems. Similarly, such limitations have obstructed new therapeutic inroads.
cholangiocarcinoma; KRAS; biliary tract cancer; mouse model
The maturation of reticulocytes into functional erythrocytes is a complex process requiring extensive cytoplasmic and plasma membrane remodeling, cytoskeletal rearrangements and changes to cellular architecture. Autophagy is implicated in the sequential removal of erythroid organelles during erythropoiesis, although how this is regulated during late stages of erythroid differentiation, and the potential contribution of autophagy during reticulocyte maturation, remain unclear. Using an optimized ex vivo differentiation system for human erythropoiesis, we have observed that maturing reticulocytes are characterized by the presence of one or few large vacuolar compartments. These label strongly for glycophorin A (GYPA/GPA) which is internalized from the plasma membrane; however, they also contain organellar remnants (ER, Golgi, mitochondria) and stain strongly for LC3, suggesting that they are endocytic/autophagic hybrid structures. Interestingly, we observed the release of these vacuoles by exocytosis in maturing reticulocytes, and speculate that autophagy is needed to concentrate the final remnants of the reticulocyte endomembrane system in autophagosome/endosome hybrid compartments that are primed to undergo exocytosis.
erythropoiesis; reticulocyte maturation; autophagosome; endosome; exosome
Chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA) is a selective form of autophagy whose distinctive feature is the fact that substrate proteins are translocated directly from the cytosol across the lysosomal membrane for degradation inside lysosomes. CMA substrates are cytosolic proteins bearing a pentapeptide motif in their sequence that, when recognized by the cytosolic chaperone HSPA8/HSC70, targets them to the surface of the lysosomes. Once there, substrate proteins bind to the lysosome-associated membrane protein type 2 isoform A (LAMP2A), inducing assembly of this receptor protein into a higher molecular weight protein complex that is used by the substrate proteins to reach the lysosomal lumen. CMA is constitutively active in most cells but it is maximally activated under conditions of stress.
cholesterol; diet; lipid microdomains; lipidomic analysis; lysosomes; membrane proteins; proteolysis