bims-auttor Biomed News
on Autophagy and mTOR
Issue of 2020‒12‒27
fifteen papers selected by
Viktor Korolchuk
Newcastle University

  1. Front Physiol. 2020 ;11 608474
      The selective removal of damaged mitochondria, also known as mitophagy, is an important mechanism that regulates mitochondrial quality control. Evidence suggests that mitophagy is adversely affected in aged skeletal muscle, and this is thought to contribute toward the age-related decline of muscle health. While our knowledge of the molecular mechanisms that regulate mitophagy are derived mostly from work in non-muscle cells, whether these mechanisms are conferred in muscle under physiological conditions has not been thoroughly investigated. Recent findings from our laboratory and those of others have made several novel contributions to this field. Herein, we consolidate current literature, including our recent work, while evaluating how ubiquitin-dependent mitophagy is regulated both in muscle and non-muscle cells through the steps of mitochondrial fission, ubiquitylation, and autophagosomal engulfment. During ubiquitin-dependent mitophagy in non-muscle cells, mitochondrial depolarization activates PINK1-Parkin signaling to elicit mitochondrial ubiquitylation. TANK-binding kinase 1 (TBK1) then activates autophagy receptors, which in turn, tether ubiquitylated mitochondria to autophagosomes prior to lysosomal degradation. In skeletal muscle, evidence supporting the involvement of PINK1-Parkin signaling in mitophagy is lacking. Instead, 5'-AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is emerging as a critical regulator. Mechanistically, AMPK activation promotes mitochondrial fission before enhancing autophagosomal engulfment of damaged mitochondria possibly via TBK1. While TBK1 may be a point of convergence between PINK1-Parkin and AMPK signaling in muscle, the critical question that remains is: whether mitochondrial ubiquitylation is required for mitophagy. In future, improving understanding of molecular processes that regulate mitophagy in muscle will help to develop novel strategies to promote healthy aging.
    Keywords:  AMPK; PINK1; Parkin; TBK1; ULK1; mitochondrial fission; mitophagy; skeletal muscle
  2. Br J Pharmacol. 2020 Dec 21.
      BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Cannabidiol (CBD) has been shown to differentially regulate the mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) in preclinical models of disease, where it reduces activity in models of epilepsies and cancer and increases it in models of multiple sclerosis (MS) and psychosis. Here we investigate the effects of phytocannabinoids on mTORC1 and define a molecular mechanism.EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH: A novel mechanism for phytocannabinoids was identified using the tractable model system, Dictyostelium discoideum. Using mouse embryonic fibroblasts, we further validate this new mechanism of action. We demonstrate clinical relevance using cells derived from healthy individuals and from people with MS (pwMS).
    KEY RESULTS: Both CBD and the more abundant cannabigerol (CBG) enhance mTORC1 activity in D. discoideum. We identify a mechanism for this effect involving inositol polyphosphate multikinase (IPMK), where elevated IPMK expression inverses the response to phytocannabinoids, decreasing mTORC1 activity upon treatment, providing new insight on phytocannabinoids' actions. We further validated this mechanism using mouse embryonic fibroblasts. Clinical relevance of this effect was shown in primary human peripheral blood mononuclear cells, where CBD and CBG treatment increased mTORC1 activity in cells derived from healthy individuals and decreased mTORC1 activity in cells derived from pwMS.
    CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS: Our findings suggest that both CBD and the abundant CBG differentially regulate mTORC1 signalling through a mechanism dependent on the activity of the upstream IPMK signalling pathway, with potential relevance to the treatment of mTOR-related disorders, including MS.
    Keywords:  IPMK; cannabidiol; cannabigerol; mTORC1; multiple sclerosis
  3. Mol Cell. 2020 Dec 10. pii: S1097-2765(20)30836-4. [Epub ahead of print]
      Mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) controls cell growth and proliferation by sensing fluctuations in environmental cues such as nutrients, growth factors, and energy levels. The Rag GTPases (Rags) serve as a critical module that signals amino acid (AA) availability to modulate mTORC1 localization and activity. Recent studies have demonstrated how AAs regulate mTORC1 activity through Rags. Here, we uncover an unconventional pathway that activates mTORC1 in response to variations in threonine (Thr) levels via mitochondrial threonyl-tRNA synthetase TARS2. TARS2 interacts with inactive Rags, particularly GTP-RagC, leading to increased GTP loading of RagA. mTORC1 activity in cells lacking TARS2 is resistant to Thr repletion, showing that TARS2 is necessary for Thr-dependent mTORC1 activation. The requirement of TARS2, but not cytoplasmic threonyl-tRNA synthetase TARS, for this effect demonstrates an additional layer of complexity in the regulation of mTORC1 activity.
    Keywords:  Rag GTPases; TARS2; amino acid; aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase; mTORC1; threonine
  4. Autophagy. 2020 Dec 20. 1-2
      Mitochondrial dysfunction is associated with the occurrence of a variety of neurodegenerative diseases, especially Alzheimer disease (AD). As a mitochondrial quality control process, mitophagy is greatly inhibited in AD; increasing evidence shows that the induction of mitophagy is an effective therapeutic intervention strategy. However, the lack of more safe, effective, and clear mechanisms for mitophagy inducers has limited the clinical application. In recent studies, we have identified a small molecule compound, UMI-77, that can safely and effectively induce mitophagy. UMI-77 is an established BH3-mimetic for MCL1 and was developed to induce apoptosis in cancer cells. We found that UMI-77 can bind MCL1 and enhance its function as a mitophagy receptor protein, thus enhancing its interaction with LC3A to induce mitophagy. UMI-77 effectively improves the cognitive decline seen in an AD mouse model. Our findings shed light on the novel mechanisms of mitophagy, reveal that MCL1 is a mitophagy receptor that can be targeted to induce mitophagy, and identify MCL1 as a drug target for therapeutic intervention in AD.
    Keywords:  Alzheimer disease; MCL1; UMI-77; mitophagy; neurodegeneration
  5. EMBO Rep. 2020 Dec 20. e51239
      Metabolic reprogramming of non-cancer cells residing in a tumor microenvironment, as a result of the adaptations to cancer-derived metabolic and non-metabolic factors, is an emerging aspect of cancer-host interaction. We show that in normal and cancer-associated fibroblasts, breast cancer-secreted extracellular vesicles suppress mTOR signaling upon amino acid stimulation to globally reduce mRNA translation. This is through delivery of cancer-derived miR-105 and miR-204, which target RAGC, a component of Rag GTPases that regulate mTORC1 signaling. Following amino acid starvation and subsequent re-feeding, 13 C-arginine labeling of de novo synthesized proteins shows selective translation of proteins that cluster to specific cellular functional pathways. The repertoire of these newly synthesized proteins is altered in fibroblasts treated with cancer-derived extracellular vesicles, in addition to the overall suppressed protein synthesis. In human breast tumors, RAGC protein levels are inversely correlated with miR-105 in the stroma. Our results suggest that through educating fibroblasts to reduce and re-prioritize mRNA translation, cancer cells rewire the metabolic fluxes of amino acid pool and dynamically regulate stroma-produced proteins during periodic nutrient fluctuations.
    Keywords:  breast cancer; extracellular vesicles; mRNA translation; mTORC1; microRNA
  6. Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Cell Res. 2020 Dec 16. pii: S0167-4889(20)30286-X. [Epub ahead of print] 118928
      Ferroptosis is a necrotic form of cell death caused by inactivation of the glutathione system and uncontrolled iron-mediated lipid peroxidation. Increasing evidence implicates ferroptosis in a wide range of diseases from neurotrauma to cancer, highlighting the importance of identifying an executioner system that can be exploited for clinical applications. In this study, using pharmacological and genetic models of ferroptosis, we observed that lysosomal membrane permeabilization and cytoplasmic leakage of cathepsin B unleashes structural and functional changes in mitochondria and promotes a not previously reported cleavage of histone H3. Inhibition of cathepsin-B robustly rescued cellular membrane integrity and chromatin degradation. We show that these protective effects are independent of glutathione peroxidase-4 and are mediated by preventing lysosomal membrane damage. This was further confirmed when cathepsin B knockout primary fibroblasts remained unaffected in response to various ferroptosis inducers. Our work identifies new and yet-unrecognized aspects of ferroptosis and identifies cathepsin B as a mediator of ferroptotic cell death.
    Keywords:  GPX4; Histone H3; autophagy; glutathione; lipid peroxidation; lysosomes
  7. J Invest Dermatol. 2021 Jan;pii: S0022-202X(20)32185-0. [Epub ahead of print]141(1): 5-9.e1
      Autophagy is required for normal skin homeostasis and its disordered regulation is implicated in a range of cutaneous diseases. Several well-characterized biomarkers of autophagy are used experimentally to quantify autophagic activity or clinically to correlate autophagy with disease progression. This article discusses the advantages and limitations of different approaches for measuring autophagy as well as the techniques for modulating autophagy. These include analysis of endogenous LC3, a central autophagy regulatory protein, and measurement of LC3 flux using a dual-fluorescent reporter, which provides a quantitative readout of autophagy in cell culture systems in vitro and animal models in vivo. Degradation of SQSTM1/p62 during autophagy is proposed as an alternative biomarker allowing the analysis of autophagy both experimentally and clinically. However, the complex regulation of individual autophagy proteins and their involvement in multiple pathways means that several proteins must be analyzed together, preferably over a time course to accurately interpret changes in autophagic activity. Genetic modification of autophagy proteins can be used to better understand basic autophagic mechanisms contributing to health and disease, whereas small molecule inhibitors of autophagy regulatory proteins, lysosomal inhibitors, or activators of cytotoxic autophagy have been explored as potential treatments for skin disorders where autophagy is defective.
  8. EMBO Rep. 2020 Dec 20. e50613
      One major factor that contributes to the virulence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa is its ability to reside and replicate unchallenged inside airway epithelial cells. The mechanism by which P. aeruginosa escapes destruction by intracellular host defense mechanisms, such as autophagy, is not known. Here, we show that the type III secretion system effector protein ExoS facilitates P. aeruginosa survival in airway epithelial cells by inhibiting autophagy in host cells. Autophagy inhibition is independent of mTOR activity, as the latter is also inhibited by ExoS, albeit by a different mechanism. Deficiency of the critical autophagy gene Atg7 in airway epithelial cells, both in vitro and in mouse models, greatly enhances the survival of ExoS-deficient P. aeruginosa but does not affect the survival of ExoS-containing bacteria. The inhibitory effect of ExoS on autophagy and mTOR depends on the activity of its ADP-ribosyltransferase domain. Inhibition of mTOR is caused by ExoS-mediated ADP ribosylation of RAS, whereas autophagy inhibition is due to the suppression of autophagic Vps34 kinase activity.
    Keywords:   Pseudomonas aeruginosa ; ADP-ribosyltransferase; ExoS; autophagy; mTOR
  9. Mol Cell. 2020 Dec 15. pii: S1097-2765(20)30827-3. [Epub ahead of print]
      In tumors, nutrient availability and metabolism are known to be important modulators of growth signaling. However, it remains elusive whether cancer cells that are growing out in the metastatic niche rely on the same nutrients and metabolic pathways to activate growth signaling as cancer cells within the primary tumor. We discovered that breast-cancer-derived lung metastases, but not the corresponding primary breast tumors, use the serine biosynthesis pathway to support mTORC1 growth signaling. Mechanistically, pyruvate uptake through Mct2 supported mTORC1 signaling by fueling serine biosynthesis-derived α-ketoglutarate production in breast-cancer-derived lung metastases. Consequently, expression of the serine biosynthesis enzyme PHGDH was required for sensitivity to the mTORC1 inhibitor rapamycin in breast-cancer-derived lung tumors, but not in primary breast tumors. In summary, we provide in vivo evidence that the metabolic and nutrient requirements to activate growth signaling differ between the lung metastatic niche and the primary breast cancer site.
    Keywords:  MCT2; PHGDH; breast cancer; lung environment; mTORC1; metastasis formation; pyruvate; serine biosynthesis; α-ketoglutarate
  10. Cells. 2020 Dec 17. pii: E2709. [Epub ahead of print]9(12):
      The treatment of tumors requires the induction of cell death. Radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy are administered to kill cancer cells; however, some cancer cells are resistant to these therapies. Therefore, effective treatments require various strategies for the induction of cell death. Regulated cell death (RCD) is systematically controlled by intracellular signaling proteins. Apoptosis and autophagy are types of RCD that are morphologically different from necrosis, while necroptosis, pyroptosis, and ferroptosis are morphologically similar to necrosis. Unlike necrosis, regulated necrotic cell death (RNCD) is caused by disruption of the plasma membrane under the control of specific proteins and induces tissue inflammation. Various types of RNCD, such as necroptosis, pyroptosis, and ferroptosis, have been used as therapeutic strategies against various tumor types. In this review, the mechanisms of necroptosis, pyroptosis, and ferroptosis are described in detail, and a potential effective treatment strategy to increase the anticancer effects on apoptosis- or autophagy-resistant tumor types through the induction of RNCD is suggested.
    Keywords:  apoptosis; autophagy; ferroptosis; necroptosis; necrosis; pyroptosis; therapy-resistant tumors
  11. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2020 ;8 547342
      Heterotopic ossification (HO) is a pathological condition involved in tendinopathy. Adipokines are known to play a key role in HO of tendinopathy. Nesfatin-1, an 82-amino acid adipokine is closely reportedly associated with diabetes mellitus (DM), which, in turn, is closely related to tendinopathy. In the present study, we aimed to investigate the effects of nesfatin-1 on the osteogenic differentiation of tendon-derived stem cells (TDSCs) and the pathogenesis of tendinopathy in rats. In vitro, TDSCs were incubated in osteogenic induction medium for 14 days with different nesfatin-1 concentration. In vivo, Sprague Dawley rats underwent Achilles tenotomy to evaluate the effect of nesfatin-1 on tendinopathy. Our results showed that the expression of nesfatin-1 expression in tendinopathy patients was significantly higher than that in healthy subjects. Nesfatin-1 affected the cytoskeleton and reduced the migration ability of TDSCs in vitro. Furthermore, nesfatin-1 inhibited the expression of Scx, Mkx, and Tnmd and promoted the expression of osteogenic genes, such as COL1a1, ALP, and RUNX2; these results suggested that nesfatin-1 inhibits cell migration, adversely impacts tendon phenotype, promotes osteogenic differentiation of TDSCs and the pathogenesis of HO in rat tendons. Moreover, we observed that nesfatin-1 suppressed autophagy and activated the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway both in vitro and in vivo. The suppression of the mTOR pathway alleviated nesfatin-1-induced HO development in rat tendons. Thus, nesfatin-1 promotes the osteogenic differentiation of TDSC and the pathogenesis of HO in rat tendons via the mTOR pathway; these findings highlight a new potential therapeutic target for tendinopathy.
    Keywords:  mTOR pathway; nesfatin-1; osteogenic tendon differentiation; tendinopathy; tendon-derived stem cells
  12. EBioMedicine. 2020 Dec 17. pii: S2352-3964(20)30542-9. [Epub ahead of print]63 103166
      Lysosomal storage disorders (LSDs), which number over fifty, are monogenically inherited and caused by mutations in genes encoding proteins that are involved in lysosomal function. Lack of the functional protein results in storage of a distinctive material within the lysosomes, which for years was thought to determine the pathophysiology of the disorder. However, our current view posits that the primary storage material disrupts the normal role of the lysosome in the autophagic pathway resulting in the secondary storage of autophagic debris. It is this "collateral damage" which is common to the LSDs but nonetheless intricately nuanced in each. We have selected five LSDs resulting from defective proteins that govern widely different lysosomal functions including glycogen degradation (Pompe), lysosomal transport (Cystinosis), lysosomal trafficking (Danon), glycolipid degradation (Gaucher) and an unidentified function (Batten) and argue that despite the disparate functions, these proteins, when mutant, all impair the autophagic process uniquely.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Batten disease; Cystinosis; Danon disease; Gaucher disease; Lysosome; Pompe disease
  13. Front Oncol. 2020 ;10 573127
      The calcium-permeable cation channel TRPM8 (transient receptor potential melastatin 8) is a member of the TRP superfamily of cation channels that is upregulated in various types of cancer with high levels of autophagy, including prostate, pancreatic, breast, lung, and colon cancers. Autophagy is closely regulated by AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and plays an important role in tumor growth by generating nutrients through degradation of intracellular structures. Additionally, AMPK activity is regulated by intracellular Ca2+ concentration. Considering that TRPM8 is a non-selective Ca2+-permeable cation channel and plays a key role in calcium homoeostasis, we hypothesized that TRPM8 may control AMPK activity thus modulating cellular autophagy to regulate the proliferation and migration of breast cancer cells. In this study, overexpression of TRPM8 enhanced the level of basal autophagy, whereas TRPM8 knockdown reduced the level of basal autophagy in several types of mammalian cancer cells. Moreover, the activity of the TRPM8 channel modulated the level of basal autophagy. The mechanism of regulation of autophagy by TRPM8 involves autophagy-associated signaling pathways for activation of AMPK and ULK1 and phagophore formation. Impaired AMPK abolished TRPM8-dependent regulation of autophagy. TRPM8 interacts with AMPK in a protein complex, and cytoplasmic C-terminus of TRPM8 mediates the TRPM8-AMPK interaction. Finally, basal autophagy mediates the regulatory effects of TRPM8 on the proliferation and migration of breast cancer cells. Thus, this study identifies TRPM8 as a novel regulator of basal autophagy in cancer cells acting by interacting with AMPK, which in turn activates AMPK to activate ULK1 in a coordinated cascade of TRPM8-mediated breast cancer progression.
    Keywords:  AMP-activated protein kinase(AMPK); LC3B; autophagy; cancer; transient receptor potential melastatin 8 (TRPM8)
  14. Neuroscience. 2020 Dec 17. pii: S0306-4522(20)30773-9. [Epub ahead of print]
      Clearance of dysfunctional mitochondria via mitophagy is essential for cell survival and cochlear functions. However, it is not clear which genes are significantly involved in this process. Here, we investigated the changes in mitophagy and mitophagy-associated genes in auditory cells to determine a possible correlation between mitophagy and age-related hearing loss (ARHL). Here, we show that most transcripts associated with mitophagy were downregulated in an age-dependent manner. We identified one significant differentially expressed gene associated with mitophagy, BNIP3L/NIX. Mitophagy-inhibited cells with BNIP3L/NIX knockdown showed hyperresponsiveness to oxidative stress resulting in cell senescence with increased levels of TOMM20 and LC3B. Overexpression of BNIP3L/NIX promotes the degradation of TOMM20 and LC3B during premature cell senescence. In conclusion, BNIP3L/NIX may play an important role in mitochondria degradation maintaining cochlear cell homeostasis during the aging process of hearing.
    Keywords:  BNIP3L/NIX; age-related hearing loss; hair cell; mitophagy; spiral ganglion cell
  15. Eur J Immunol. 2020 Dec 22.
      Autophagy has been reported to be involved in supporting antigen cross-presentation by dendritic cells (DCs). We have shown that DCs have the ability to store antigen for a prolonged time in endo-lysosomal compartments and thereby sustain MHCI antigen cross-presentation to CD8+ T cells. In the current study, we investigated the role of autophagy in long-term antigen presentation. We show that the autophagy machinery has a negative impact on storage of antigen in DCs. Atg5- /- DCs which are deficient in autophagy or DCs treated with common autophagy inhibitors showed enhanced antigen storage and antigen cross-presentation. This augmented antigen cross-presentation effect is independent of altered proteasome enzyme activity or MHCI surface expression on DCs. We visualized that the storage compartments are in close proximity to LC3 positive autophagosomes. Our results indicate that autophagosomes disrupt antigen storage in DCs and thereby regulate long-term MHCI cross-presentation. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Keywords:  DC; LC3; MHCI; autophagy; cross-presentation