Autophagy is now emerging as a spotlight in trafficking events that activate innate and adaptive immunity. It facilitates innate pathogen detection and antigen presentation, as well as pathogen clearance and lymphocyte homeostasis. In this review, we first summarize new insights into its functions in immunity, which underlie its associations with autoimmunity. As some lines of evidence are emerging to support its role in autoimmune and autoinflammatory diseases, we further discuss whether and how it affects autoimmune diseases including systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes mellitus and multiple sclerosis, as well as autoinflammatory diseases, such as Crohn disease and vitiligo.
autoimmune disease; autoinflammatory disease; autophagy; immunity
Selective macroautophagy uses double-membrane vesicles, termed autophagosomes, to transport cytoplasmic pathogens, organelles and protein complexes to the vacuole for degradation. Autophagosomes are formed de novo by membrane fusion events at the phagophore assembly site (PAS). Therefore, precursor membrane material must be targeted and transported to the PAS. While some autophagy-related (Atg) proteins, such as Atg9 and Atg11, are known to be involved in this process, most of the mechanistic details are not understood. Previous work has also implicated the small Rab-family GTPase Ypt1 in the process, identifying Trs85 as a unique subunit of the TRAPPIII targeting complex and showing that it plays a macroautophagy-specific role; however, the relationship between Ypt1, Atg9 and Atg11 was not clear. Now, a recent report shows that Atg11 is a Trs85-specific effector of the Rab Ypt1, and may act as a classic coiled-coil membrane tether that targets Atg9-containing membranes to the PAS. Here, we review this finding in the context of what is known about Atg11, other Rab-dependent coiled-coil tethers, and other tethering complexes involved in autophagosome formation.
Atg9; membrane trafficking; stress; Trs85; vacuole; Ypt1
Autophagy is a highly conserved process that degrades cellular long-lived proteins and organelles. Accumulating evidence indicates that autophagy plays a critical role in kidney maintenance, diseases and aging. Ischemic, toxic, immunological, and oxidative insults can cause an induction of autophagy in renal epithelial cells modifying the course of various kidney diseases. This review summarizes recent insights on the role of autophagy in kidney physiology and diseases alluding to possible novel intervention strategies for treating specific kidney disorders by modifying autophagy.
autophagy; kidney; acute kidney injury; aging; polycystic kidney disease; podocyte; glomerulus; kidney transplantation; mTOR
Macroautophagy (hereafter referred to as autophagy) is an evolutionarily conserved self-degradative process, which involves the regular turnover of cellular components via sequestering damaged macromolecules and transporting them for lysosomal degradation. In the past few years, the scientific community has produced remarkable advances in our understanding of the genes that are involved in autophagy and of their profound effects on various diseases. Recently, a new class of noncoding RNAs, known as microRNAs (miRNAs), has been demonstrated to play crucial roles in diverse biological processes including development, cell differentiation and apoptosis. Here, we review the current understanding about miRNAs focusing on their involvement in the autophagy process. Intriguingly, several confirmed targets of these autophagy-miRNAs are also important regulators in the crosstalk between autophagy and apoptosis. Furthermore, transcripts involved in autophagy and apoptosis may indirectly modulate each other by competing for common miRNA binding sites. Thus, miRNAs potentially work as molecular switches between these two intimately connected processes and contribute to the cell fate decision.
miRNAs; autophagy; apoptosis; cell signaling; cancers
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a complex, degenerative and progressive eye disease that usually does not lead to complete blindness, but can result in severe loss of central vision. Risk factors for AMD include age, genetics, diet, smoking, oxidative stress and many cardiovascular-associated risk factors. Autophagy is a cellular housekeeping process that removes damaged organelles and protein aggregates, whereas heterophagy, in the case of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), is the phagocytosis of exogenous photoreceptor outer segments. Numerous studies have demonstrated that both autophagy and heterophagy are highly active in the RPE. To date, there is increasing evidence that constant oxidative stress impairs autophagy and heterophagy, as well as increases protein aggregation and causes inflammasome activation leading to the pathological phenotype of AMD. This review ties together these crucial pathological topics and reflects upon autophagy as a potential therapeutic target in AMD.
AMD; autophagy; heterophagy; inflammasome; lysosome; oxidative stress; phagocytosis; proteasome; RPE
In 2008 we published the first set of guidelines for standardizing research in autophagy. Since then, research on this topic has continued to accelerate, and many new scientists have entered the field. Our knowledge base and relevant new technologies have also been expanding. Accordingly, it is important to update these guidelines for monitoring autophagy in different organisms. Various reviews have described the range of assays that have been used for this purpose. Nevertheless, there continues to be confusion regarding acceptable methods to measure autophagy, especially in multicellular eukaryotes. A key point that needs to be emphasized is that there is a difference between measurements that monitor the numbers or volume of autophagic elements (e.g., autophagosomes or autolysosomes) at any stage of the autophagic process vs. those that measure flux through the autophagy pathway (i.e., the complete process); thus, a block in macroautophagy that results in autophagosome accumulation needs to be differentiated from stimuli that result in increased autophagic activity, defined as increased autophagy induction coupled with increased delivery to, and degradation within, lysosomes (in most higher eukaryotes and some protists such as Dictyostelium) or the vacuole (in plants and fungi). In other words, it is especially important that investigators new to the field understand that the appearance of more autophagosomes does not necessarily equate with more autophagy. In fact, in many cases, autophagosomes accumulate because of a block in trafficking to lysosomes without a concomitant change in autophagosome biogenesis, whereas an increase in autolysosomes may reflect a reduction in degradative activity. Here, we present a set of guidelines for the selection and interpretation of methods for use by investigators who aim to examine macroautophagy and related processes, as well as for reviewers who need to provide realistic and reasonable critiques of papers that are focused on these processes. These guidelines are not meant to be a formulaic set of rules, because the appropriate assays depend in part on the question being asked and the system being used. In addition, we emphasize that no individual assay is guaranteed to be the most appropriate one in every situation, and we strongly recommend the use of multiple assays to monitor autophagy. In these guidelines, we consider these various methods of assessing autophagy and what information can, or cannot, be obtained from them. Finally, by discussing the merits and limits of particular autophagy assays, we hope to encourage technical innovation in the field.
LC3; autolysosome; autophagosome; flux; lysosome; phagophore; stress; vacuole
The study of autophagy is rapidly expanding, and our knowledge of the molecular mechanism and its connections to a wide range of physiological processes has increased substantially in the past decade. The vocabulary associated with autophagy has grown concomitantly. In fact, it is difficult for readers—even those who work in the field—to keep up with the ever-expanding terminology associated with the various autophagy-related processes. Accordingly, we have developed a comprehensive glossary of autophagy-related terms that is meant to provide a quick reference for researchers who need a brief reminder of the regulatory effects of transcription factors and chemical agents that induce or inhibit autophagy, the function of the autophagy-related proteins, and the roles of accessory components and structures that are associated with autophagy.
autophagy; lysosome; mitophagy; pexophagy; stress; vacuole
Lysosomes are ubiquitous intracellular organelles that have an acidic internal pH, and play crucial roles in cellular clearance. Numerous functions depend on normal lysosomes, including the turnover of cellular constituents, cholesterol homeostasis, downregulation of surface receptors, inactivation of pathogenic organisms, repair of the plasma membrane and bone remodeling. Lysosomal storage disorders (LSDs) are characterized by progressive accumulation of undigested macromolecules within the cell due to lysosomal dysfunction. As a consequence, many tissues and organ systems are affected, including brain, viscera, bone and cartilage. The progressive nature of phenotype development is one of the hallmarks of LSDs. In recent years biochemical and cell biology studies of LSDs have revealed an ample spectrum of abnormalities in a variety of cellular functions. These include defects in signaling pathways, calcium homeostasis, lipid biosynthesis and degradation and intracellular trafficking. Lysosomes also play a fundamental role in the autophagic pathway by fusing with autophagosomes and digesting their content. Considering the highly integrated function of lysosomes and autophagosomes it was reasonable to expect that lysosomal storage in LSDs would have an impact upon autophagy. The goal of this review is to provide readers with an overview of recent findings that have been obtained through analysis of the autophagic pathway in several types of LSDs, supporting the idea that LSDs could be seen primarily as “autophagy disorders.”
Mucolipidosis Type IV; autophagy; glycogenosis; lysosomal storage disorders; lysosomes; mucopolysaccharidoses; sphingolipidoses
Mitochondrial dysfunction has severe cellular consequences and is linked with neurodegenerative diseases and aging. Maintaining a healthy population of mitochondria is thus essential for proper cellular homeostasis. Several strategies have evolved to prevent and limit mitochondria damage, and macroautophagy plays a role in degrading superfluous or severely damaged mitochondria. Selective removal of mitochondria by autophagy (termed mitophagy) has been extensively studied recently in both yeast and mammalian cells. In this review, we summarize our current knowledge of mitophagy. We also compare the molecular process of mitophagy with other types of specific autophagic pathways and discuss its biological importance.
lysosome; mitophagy; protein targeting; stress; vacuole; yeast
Autophagy is the degradative process by which eukaryotic cells digest their own components using acid hydrolases within the lysosome. Originally thought to function almost exclusively in providing starving cells with nutrients taken from their own cellular constituents, autophagy is in fact involved in numerous cellular events including differentiation, turnover of macromolecules and organelles and defense against parasitic invaders. During the past 10–20 years, molecular components of the autophagic machinery have been discovered, revealing a complex interactome of proteins and lipids, which, in a concerted way, induce membrane formation to engulf cellular material and target it for lysosomal degradation. Here, our emphasis is autophagy in protists. We discuss experimental and genomic data indicating that the canonical autophagy machinery characterized in animals and fungi appeared prior to the radiation of major eukaryotic lineages. Moreover, we describe how comparative bioinformatics revealed that this canonical machinery has been subject to moderation, outright loss or elaboration on multiple occasions in protist lineages, most probably as a consequence of diverse lifestyle adaptations. We also review experimental studies illustrating how several pathogenic protists either utilize autophagy mechanisms or manipulate host-cell autophagy in order to establish or maintain infection within a host. The essentiality of autophagy for the pathogenicity of many parasites, and the unique features of some of the autophagy-related proteins involved, suggest possible new targets for drug discovery. Further studies of the molecular details of autophagy in protists will undoubtedly enhance our understanding of the diversity and complexity of this cellular phenomenon and the opportunities it offers as a drug target.
autophagy; ubiquitination; pexophagy; evolution; free-living protist; parasitic protist; life-cycle differentiation, Trypanosomatidae; Apicomplexa; drug discovery
Autophagy is an intracellular catabolic system, which enables cells to capture cytoplasmic components for degradation within lysosomes. Autophagy is involved in development, differentiation and tissue remodeling in various organisms, and is also implicated in certain diseases. Recent studies demonstrate that autophagy is necessary to maintain architecture and function of pancreatic beta cells. Altered autophagy is also involved in pancreatic beta cell death. Whether autophagy plays a protective or harmful role in diabetes is still not clear. In this review, we will summarize the current knowledge about the role of autophagy in pancreatic beta cell and diabetes.
autophagy; autophagic cell death; pancreatic beta cell; diabetes; insulin
An emerging body of evidence supports a role for autophagy in the pathophysiology of type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Persistent high concentrations of glucose lead to imbalances in the antioxidant capacity within the cell resulting in oxidative stress-mediated injury in both disorders. An anticipated consequence of impaired autophagy is the accumulation of dysfunctional organelles such as mitochondria within the cell. Mitochondria are the primary site of the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), and an imbalance in ROS production relative to the cytoprotective action of autophagy may lead to the accumulation of ROS. Impaired mitochondrial function associated with increased ROS levels have been proposed as mechanisms contributing to insulin resistance. In this article we review and interpret the literature that implicates a role for autophagy in the pathophysiology of type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus as it applies to β-cell dysfunction, and more broadly to organ systems involved in complications of diabetes including the cardiovascular, renal and nervous systems.
autophagy; diabetes mellitus; diabetes complications; oxidative stress; mitochondria dysfunction; autoimmunity
In recent years, the process of selective autophagy has received much attention with respect to the clearance of protein aggregates, damaged mitochondria and bacteria. However, until recently, there have been virtually no studies on the selective autophagy of viruses, although they are perhaps one of the most ubiquitous unwanted constituents in human cells. Recently, we have shown that the ability of neuronal Atg5 to protect against lethal Sindbis virus central nervous system (CNS) infection in mice is associated with impaired viral capsid clearance, increased p62 accumulation and increased neuronal cell death. In vitro, we showed that p62 interacts with the Sindbis capsid protein and targets it for degradation in autophagosomes. Herein, we review these findings and broadly speculate about potential roles of selective viral autophagy in the regulation of host immunity and viral pathogenesis.
virus; autophagy; p62; Sindbis; capsid
Mounting evidence suggests that autophagy is a more selective process than originally anticipated. The discovery and characterization of autophagic adapters, like p62 and NBR1, has provided mechanistic insight into this process. p62 and NBR1 are both selectively degraded by autophagy and able to act as cargo receptors for degradation of ubiquitinated substrates. A direct interaction between these autophagic adapters and the autophagosomal marker protein LC3, mediated by a so-called LIR (LC3-interacting region) motif, their inherent ability to polymerize or aggregate as well as their ability to specifically recognize substrates are required for efficient selective autophagy. These three required features of autophagic cargo receptors are evolutionarily conserved and also employed in the yeast cytoplasm-to-vacuole targeting (Cvt) pathway and in the degradation of P granules in C. elegans. Here, we review the mechanistic basis of selective autophagy in mammalian cells discussing the degradation of misfolded proteins, p62 bodies, aggresomes, mitochondria and invading bacteria. The emerging picture of selective autophagy affecting the regulation of cell signaling with consequences for oxidative stress responses, tumorigenesis and innate immunity is also addressed.
p62; ubiquitin; LIR; selective autophagy; cell signaling; protein aggregates