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1.  When more is less 
Autophagy  2009;5(1):111-113.
The role of autophagy, a catabolic lysosome-dependent pathway, has recently been recognized in a variety of disorders, including Pompe disease, which results from a deficiency of the glycogen-degrading lysosomal hydrolase acid-alpha glucosidase (GAA). Skeletal and cardiac muscle are most severely affected by the progressive expansion of glycogen-filled lysosomes. In both humans and an animal model of the disease (GAA KO), skeletal muscle pathology also involves massive accumulation of autophagic vesicles and autophagic buildup in the core of myofibers, suggesting an induction of autophagy. Only when we suppressed autophagy in the skeletal muscle of the GAA KO mice did we realize that the excess of autophagy manifests as a functional deficiency. This failure of productive autophagy is responsible for the accumulation of potentially toxic aggregate-prone ubiquitinated proteins, which likely cause profound muscle damage in Pompe mice. Also, by generating muscle-specific autophagy-deficient wild-type mice, we were able to analyze the role of autophagy in healthy skeletal muscle.
PMCID: PMC3257549  PMID: 19001870
Pompe disease; lysosome; muscle-specific autophagy deficiency; protein inclusions
2.  Suppression of autophagy permits successful enzyme replacement therapy in a lysosomal storage disorder—murine Pompe disease 
Autophagy  2010;6(8):1078-1089.
Autophagy, an intracellular system for delivering portions of cytoplasm and damaged organelles to lysosomes for degradation/recycling, plays a role in many physiological processes and is disturbed in many diseases. We recently provided evidence for the role of autophagy in Pompe disease, a lysosomal storage disorder in which acid alpha-glucosidase, the enzyme involved in the breakdown of glycogen, is deficient or absent. Clinically the disease manifests as a cardiac and skeletal muscle myopathy. The current enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) clears lysosomal glycogen effectively from the heart but less so from skeletal muscle. In our Pompe model, the poor muscle response to therapy is associated with the presence of pools of autophagic debris. To clear the fibers of the autophagic debris, we have generated a Pompe model in which an autophagy gene, Atg7, is inactivated in muscle. Suppression of autophagy alone reduced the glycogen level by 50–60%. Following ERT, muscle glycogen was reduced to normal levels, an outcome not observed in Pompe mice with genetically intact autophagy. The suppression of autophagy, which has proven successful in the Pompe model, is a novel therapeutic approach that may be useful in other diseases with disturbed autophagy.
doi:10.4161/auto.6.8.13378
PMCID: PMC3039718  PMID: 20861693
Pompe disease; lysosomal glycogen storage; myopathy; Atg7; enzyme replacement therapy
3.  The values and limits of an in vitro model of Pompe disease 
Autophagy  2009;5(5):729-731.
In Pompe disease, a lysosomal glycogen storage disorder, cardiac and skeletal muscle abnormalities are responsible for premature death and severe weakness. Swollen glycogen-filled lysosomes, the expected pathology, are accompanied in skeletal muscle by a secondary pathology – massive accumulation of autophagic debris – that appears to contribute greatly to the weakness. We have tried to reproduce these defects in murine, Pompe myotubes derived from either primary myoblasts or myoblasts with extended proliferative capacity. The cells accumulated large lysosomes filled with glycogen, but, to our disappointment, did not have autophagic buildup even though basal autophagy was intact. When we suppressed autophagy by knocking down Atg7, we found that glycogen uptake by lysosomes was not affected, suggesting that macroautophagy is not the major pathway for glycogen delivery to lysosomes. But two apparently incidental observations – a peculiar distribution of both microinjected dextran and of small acidic structures adjacent to the interior membrane of large alkalinized glycogen-containing lysosomes – raised the possibility that glycogen traffics to the lysosomes by microautophagy or/and by the engulfment of small lysosomes by large ones. The cultured myotubes, therefore, appear to be a useful model for studying the mechanisms involved in glycogen accumulation in Pompe disease and to test substrate deprivation approaches.
PMCID: PMC2706922  PMID: 19571661
lysosomal storage; glycogen; Pompe disease; myotubes; Atg7

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