bims-auttor Biomed News
on Autophagy and mTOR
Issue of 2021‒05‒16
33 papers selected by
Viktor Korolchuk
Newcastle University


  1. Autophagy. 2021 May 12. 1-11
      Glioblastoma (GBM), a very aggressive and incurable tumor, often results from constitutive activation of EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor) and of phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K). To understand the role of autophagy in the pathogenesis of glial tumors in vivo, we used an established Drosophila melanogaster model of glioma based on overexpression in larval glial cells of an active human EGFR and of the PI3K homolog Pi3K92E/Dp110. Interestingly, the resulting hyperplastic glia express high levels of key components of the lysosomal-autophagic compartment, including vacuolar-type H+-ATPase (V-ATPase) subunits and ref(2)P (refractory to Sigma P), the Drosophila homolog of SQSTM1/p62. However, cellular clearance of autophagic cargoes appears inhibited upstream of autophagosome formation. Remarkably, downregulation of subunits of V-ATPase, of Pdk1, or of the Tor (Target of rapamycin) complex 1 (TORC1) component raptor prevents overgrowth and normalize ref(2)P levels. In addition, downregulation of the V-ATPase subunit VhaPPA1-1 reduces Akt and Tor-dependent signaling and restores clearance. Consistent with evidence in flies, neurospheres from patients with high V-ATPase subunit expression show inhibition of autophagy. Altogether, our data suggest that autophagy is repressed during glial tumorigenesis and that V-ATPase and MTORC1 components acting at lysosomes could represent therapeutic targets against GBM.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; V-ATPase; cancer model; fruit fly; glioblastoma; lysosomes; neurospheres; ref(2)P
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1080/15548627.2021.1918915
  2. EMBO J. 2021 May 14. e106412
      The mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) integrates nutrients, growth factors, stress, and energy status to regulate cell growth and metabolism. Amino acids promote mTORC1 lysosomal localization and subsequent activation. However, the subcellular location or interacting proteins of mTORC1 under amino acid-deficient conditions is not completely understood. Here, we identify ADP-ribosylation factor GTPase-activating protein 1 (ArfGAP1) as a crucial regulator of mTORC1. ArfGAP1 interacts with mTORC1 in the absence of amino acids and inhibits mTORC1 lysosomal localization and activation. Mechanistically, the membrane curvature-sensing amphipathic lipid packing sensor (ALPS) motifs that bind to vesicle membranes are crucial for ArfGAP1 to interact with and regulate mTORC1 activity. Importantly, ArfGAP1 represses cell growth through mTORC1 and is an independent prognostic factor for the overall survival of pancreatic cancer patients. Our study identifies ArfGAP1 as a critical regulator of mTORC1 that functions by preventing the lysosomal transport and activation of mTORC1, with potential for cancer therapeutics.
    Keywords:  ArfGAP1; amino acids; lysosome; mTORC1; vesicle trafficking
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.15252/embj.2020106412
  3. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2021 ;9 667311
      Folliculin (FLCN) is a tumor suppressor gene responsible for the inherited Birt-Hogg-Dubé (BHD) syndrome, which affects kidneys, skin and lungs. FLCN is a highly conserved protein that forms a complex with folliculin interacting proteins 1 and 2 (FNIP1/2). Although its sequence does not show homology to known functional domains, structural studies have determined a role of FLCN as a GTPase activating protein (GAP) for small GTPases such as Rag GTPases. FLCN GAP activity on the Rags is required for the recruitment of mTORC1 and the transcriptional factors TFEB and TFE3 on the lysosome, where mTORC1 phosphorylates and inactivates these factors. TFEB/TFE3 are master regulators of lysosomal biogenesis and function, and autophagy. By this mechanism, FLCN/FNIP complex participates in the control of metabolic processes. AMPK, a key regulator of catabolism, interacts with FLCN/FNIP complex. FLCN loss results in constitutive activation of AMPK, which suggests an additional mechanism by which FLCN/FNIP may control metabolism. AMPK regulates the expression and activity of the transcriptional cofactors PGC1α/β, implicated in the control of mitochondrial biogenesis and oxidative metabolism. In this review, we summarize our current knowledge of the interplay between mTORC1, FLCN/FNIP, and AMPK and their implications in the control of cellular homeostasis through the transcriptional activity of TFEB/TFE3 and PGC1α/β. Other pathways and cellular processes regulated by FLCN will be briefly discussed.
    Keywords:  AMPK; PGC1α; TFE3; TFEB; folliculin; mTORC1; metabolism; transcriptional regulation
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.3389/fcell.2021.667311
  4. Autophagy. 2021 May 09. 1-20
      Initiation of PINK1- and PRKN-dependent mitophagy is a highly regulated process involving the activity of the AAA-ATPase VCP/p97, a cofactor-guided multifunctional protein central to handling ubiquitinated client proteins. Removal of ubiquitinated substrates such as the mitofusin MFN2 from the outer mitochondrial membrane by VCP is critical for PRKN accumulation on mitochondria, which drives mitophagy. Here we characterize the role of the UBA and UBX-domain containing VCP cofactor UBXN1/SAKS1 during mitophagy. Following mitochondrial depolarization and depending on PRKN, UBXN1 translocated alongside VCP to mitochondria. Prior to mitophagy, loss of UBXN1 led to mitochondrial fragmentation, diminished ATP production, and impaired ER-mitochondrial apposition. When mitophagy was induced in cells lacking UBXN1, mitochondrial translocation of VCP and PRKN was impaired, diminishing mitophagic flux. In addition, UBXN1 physically interacted with PRKN in a UBX-domain depending manner. Interestingly, ectopic expression of the pro-mitophagic VCP cofactor UBXN6/UBXD1 fully reversed impaired PRKN recruitment in UBXN1-/- cells. Mechanistically, UBXN1 acted downstream of PINK1 by facilitating MFN2 removal from mitochondria. In UBXN1-/- cells exposed to mitochondrial stress, MFN2 formed para-mitochondrial blobs likely representing blocked intermediates of the MFN2 removal process partly reversible by expression of UBXN6. Presence of these MFN2 blobs strongly correlated with impaired PRKN translocation to depolarized mitochondria. Our observations connect the VCP cofactor UBXN1 to the initiation and maintenance phase of PRKN-dependent mitophagy, and indicate that, upon mitochondrial stress induction, MFN2 removal from mitochondria occurs through a specialized process.
    Keywords:  MFN2; PRKN; UBXN1; UBXN6; VCP; mitophagy
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1080/15548627.2021.1922982
  5. Autophagy. 2021 May 12. 1-18
      Macroautophagy/autophagy plays an important role during the development of human cancer. BECN1 (beclin 1), a core player in autophagy regulation, is downregulated in many kinds of malignancy. The underlying mechanism, however, has not been fully illuminated. Here, we found that CUL3 (cullin 3), an E3 ubiquitin ligase, could interact with BECN1 and promote the K48-linked ubiquitination and degradation of this protein; In addition, CUL3 led to a decrease in autophagic activity through downregulating BECN1. We also found that KLHL38 was a substrate adaptor of the CUL3 E3 ligase complex-mediated ubiquitination and degradation of BECN1. In breast and ovarian cancer, CUL3 could promote the proliferation of tumor cells, and the expression of CUL3 was related to poor prognosis in patients. Our study reveals the underlying mechanism of BECN1 ubiquitination and degradation that affects autophagic activity and subsequently leads to tumor progression, providing a novel therapeutic strategy that regulates autophagy to combat cancer.Abbreviations: ATG: autophagy-related BECN1: beclin 1 CHX: cycloheximide CoIP: co-immunoprecipitation CUL3: cullin 3 IP: immunoprecipitation MS: mass spectrometry PtdIns3K: phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase UPS: ubiquitin-proteasome system.
    Keywords:  Autophagosome; E3 ubiquitin ligase; KLHL; posttranslational modification; proliferation; proteasome
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1080/15548627.2021.1912270
  6. EMBO Rep. 2021 May 13. e52173
      Lysosomal positioning and mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) signaling coordinate cellular responses to nutrient levels. Inadequate nutrient sensing can result in growth delays, a hallmark of Lowe syndrome. OCRL mutations cause Lowe syndrome, but the role of OCRL in nutrient sensing is unknown. Here, we show that OCRL is localized to the centrosome by its ASH domain and that it recruits microtubule-anchoring factor SSX2IP to the centrosome, which is important in the formation of the microtubule-organizing center. Deficiency of OCRL in human and mouse cells results in loss of microtubule-organizing centers and impaired microtubule-based lysosome movement, which in turn leads to mTORC1 inactivation and abnormal nutrient sensing. Centrosome-targeted PACT-SSX2IP can restore microtubule anchoring and mTOR activity. Importantly, boosting the activity of mTORC1 restores the nutrient sensing ability of Lowe patients' cells. Our findings highlight mTORC1 as a novel therapeutic target for Lowe syndrome.
    Keywords:  OCRL; lowe syndrome; lysosome positioning; mTOR; microtubule nucleation
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.15252/embr.202052173
  7. Elife. 2021 May 14. pii: e62233. [Epub ahead of print]10
      Age-related changes to histone levels are seen in many species. However, it is unclear whether changes to histone expression could be exploited to ameliorate the effects of ageing in multicellular organisms. Here we show that inhibition of mTORC1 by the lifespan-extending drug rapamycin increases expression of histones H3 and H4 post-transcriptionally, through eIF3-mediated translation. Elevated expression of H3/H4 in intestinal enterocytes in Drosophila alters chromatin organization, induces intestinal autophagy through transcriptional regulation, prevents age-related decline in the intestine. Importantly, it also mediates rapamycin-induced longevity and intestinal health. Histones H3/H4 regulate expression of an autophagy cargo adaptor Bchs (WDFY3 in mammals), increased expression of which in enterocytes mediates increased H3/H4-dependent healthy longevity. In mice, rapamycin treatment increases expression of histone proteins and Wdfy3 transcription, and alters chromatin organisation in the small intestine, suggesting the mTORC1-histone axis is at least partially conserved in mammals and may offer new targets for anti-ageing interventions.
    Keywords:  D. melanogaster; cell biology; chromosomes; gene expression; mouse
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.62233
  8. J Cell Mol Med. 2021 May 10.
      Abnormal accumulation of lipids and massive deposition of foam cells is a primary event in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. Recent studies have demonstrated that autophagy and lysosomal function of atherosclerotic macrophages are impaired, which exacerbates the accumulation of lipid in macrophages and formation of foam cells. Gastrodin, a major active component of Gastrodia elata Bl., has exerted a protective effect on nervous system, but the effect of gastrodin on atherosclerotic vascular disease remains unknown. We aimed to evaluate the effect of gastrodin on autophagy and lysosomal function of foam cells and explored the mechanism underlying gastrodin's effect on the formation of foam cells. In an in vitro foam cell model constructed by incubating macrophages with oxygenized low-density lipoproteins (ox-LDL), our results showed that lysosomal function and autophagy of foam cells were compromised. Gastrodin restored lysosomal function and autophagic activity via the induction of lysosomal biogenesis and autophagy. The restoration of lysosomal function and autophagic activity enhanced cholesterol efflux from macrophages, therefore, reducing lipid accumulation and preventing formation of foam cells. AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) was activated by gastrodin to promote phosphorylation and nuclear translocation of forkhead box O1 (FoxO1), subsequently resulting in increased transcription factor EB (TFEB) expression. TFEB was activated by gastrodin to promote lysosomal biogenesis and autophagy. Our study revealed that the effect of gastrodin on foam cell formation and that induction of lysosomal biogenesis and autophagy of foam cells through AMPK-FoxO1-TFEB signalling axis may be a novel therapeutic target of atherosclerosis.
    Keywords:  autophagy; foam cells; gastrodin; lysosomal function; lysosome biogenesis
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1111/jcmm.16600
  9. J Hematol Oncol. 2021 May 14. 14(1): 79
      Long known as digestive organelles, lysosomes have now emerged as multifaceted centers responsible for degradation, nutrient sensing, and immunity. Growing evidence also implicates role of lysosome-related mechanisms in pathologic process. In this review, we discuss physiological function of lysosomes and, more importantly, how the homeostasis of lysosomes is disrupted in several diseases, including atherosclerosis, neurodegenerative diseases, autoimmune disorders, pancreatitis, lysosomal storage disorders, and malignant tumors. In atherosclerosis and Gaucher disease, dysfunction of lysosomes changes cytokine secretion from macrophages, partially through inflammasome activation. In neurodegenerative diseases, defect autophagy facilitates accumulation of toxic protein and dysfunctional organelles leading to neuron death. Lysosomal dysfunction has been demonstrated in pathology of pancreatitis. Abnormal autophagy activation or inhibition has been revealed in autoimmune disorders. In tumor microenvironment, malignant phenotypes, including tumorigenesis, growth regulation, invasion, drug resistance, and radiotherapy resistance, of tumor cells and behaviors of tumor-associated macrophages, fibroblasts, dendritic cells, and T cells are also mediated by lysosomes. Based on these findings, a series of therapeutic methods targeting lysosomal proteins and processes have been developed from bench to bedside. In a word, present researches corroborate lysosomes to be pivotal organelles for understanding pathology of atherosclerosis, neurodegenerative diseases, autoimmune disorders, pancreatitis, and lysosomal storage disorders, and malignant tumors and developing novel therapeutic strategies.
    Keywords:  Atherosclerosis; Autoimmune disorder; Lysosomal storage disorder; Lysosome; Neurodegenerative disease; Pancreatitis; Tumor microenvironment; Tumor-associated macrophage
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1186/s13045-021-01087-1
  10. Autophagy. 2021 May 08. 1-17
      CREG1 is a small glycoprotein which has been proposed as a transcription repressor, a secretory ligand, a lysosomal, or a mitochondrial protein. This is largely because of lack of antibodies for immunolocalization validated through gain- and loss-of-function studies. In the present study, we demonstrate, using antibodies validated for immunofluorescence microscopy, that CREG1 is mainly localized to the endosomal-lysosomal compartment. Gain- and loss-of-function analyses reveal an important role for CREG1 in both macropinocytosis and clathrin-dependent endocytosis. CREG1 also promotes acidification of the endosomal-lysosomal compartment and increases lysosomal biogenesis. Functionally, overexpression of CREG1 enhances macroautophagy/autophagy and lysosome-mediated degradation, whereas knockdown or knockout of CREG1 has opposite effects. The function of CREG1 in lysosomal biogenesis is likely attributable to enhanced endocytic trafficking. Our results demonstrate that CREG1 is an endosomal-lysosomal protein implicated in endocytic trafficking and lysosomal biogenesis.Abbreviations: AIFM1/AIF: apoptosis inducing factor mitochondria associated 1; AO: acridine orange; ATP6V1H: ATPase H+ transporting V1 subunit H; CALR: calreticulin; CREG: cellular repressor of E1A stimulated genes; CTSC: cathepsin C; CTSD: cathepsin D; EBAG9/RCAS1: estrogen receptor binding site associated antigen 9; EIPA: 5-(N-ethyl-N-isopropyl)amiloride; ER: endoplasmic reticulum; GFP: green fluorescent protein; HEXA: hexosaminidase subunit alpha; IGF2R: insulin like growth factor 2 receptor; LAMP1: lysosomal associated membrane protein 1; M6PR: mannose-6-phosphate receptor, cation dependent; MAPK1/ERK2: mitogen-activated protein kinase 1; MTORC1: mechanistic target of rapamycin kinase complex 1; PDIA2: protein disulfide isomerase family A member 2; SQSTM1/p62: sequestosome 1; TF: transferrin; TFEB: transcription factor EB.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; endocytosis; gene targeting; hepatocytes; immunofluorescence
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1080/15548627.2021.1909997
  11. Trends Cell Biol. 2021 May 07. pii: S0962-8924(21)00073-8. [Epub ahead of print]
      The ATG4 proteases are key regulators of autophagy. Until recently it was thought that their main function was to mediate the processing of ATG8 family members. A new study by Nguyen et al. reveals a role for ATG4s, independent of their catalytic activity, and proposes novel functions in mediating lipid transfer and mitophagy.
    Keywords:  ARFIP2; ATG9A; GABARAP; LC3; autophagy; mitophagy
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tcb.2021.04.003
  12. Autophagy. 2021 May 14. 1-2
      Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is one of the deadliest forms of cancer. The elevated macroautophagy/autophagy in these tumors supports growth, promotes immune evasion, and increases therapeutic resistance. Therefore, targeting autophagy is a therapeutic strategy that is being pursued to treat PDAC patients. Whereas autophagy inhibition impairs mitochondrial metabolism in PDAC, the specific metabolite(s) that becomes limiting when autophagy is inhibited has not been identified. We report that loss of autophagy specifically results in intracellular cysteine depletion under nutrient-replete conditions. Mechanistically, we show that PDAC cells utilize the autophagy machinery to regulate the activity and localization of the cystine transporter SLC7A11 at the plasma membrane. Upon inhibition of autophagy, SLC7A11 is localized to lysosomes in an MTORC2-dependent manner. Our findings reveal a novel connection between autophagy and cysteine metabolism in pancreatic cancer.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; SLC7A11; cysteine; lysosome; metabolism; pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1080/15548627.2021.1922984
  13. Cell Death Dis. 2021 May 13. 12(5): 481
      The cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p27Kip1 (p27) has been involved in promoting autophagy and survival in conditions of metabolic stress. While the signaling cascade upstream of p27 leading to its cytoplasmic localization and autophagy induction has been extensively studied, how p27 stimulates the autophagic process remains unclear. Here, we investigated the mechanism by which p27 promotes autophagy upon glucose deprivation. Mouse embryo fibroblasts (MEFs) lacking p27 exhibit a decreased autophagy flux compared to wild-type cells and this is correlated with an abnormal distribution of autophagosomes. Indeed, while autophagosomes are mainly located in the perinuclear area in wild-type cells, they are distributed throughout the cytoplasm in p27-null MEFs. Autophagosome trafficking towards the perinuclear area, where most lysosomes reside, is critical for autophagosome-lysosome fusion and cargo degradation. Vesicle trafficking is mediated by motor proteins, themselves recruited preferentially to acetylated microtubules, and autophagy flux is directly correlated to microtubule acetylation levels. p27-/- MEFs exhibit a marked reduction in microtubule acetylation levels and restoring microtubule acetylation in these cells, either by re-expressing p27 or with deacetylase inhibitors, restores perinuclear positioning of autophagosomes and autophagy flux. Finally, we find that p27 promotes microtubule acetylation by binding to and stabilizing α-tubulin acetyltransferase (ATAT1) in glucose-deprived cells. ATAT1 knockdown results in random distribution of autophagosomes in p27+/+ MEFs and impaired autophagy flux, similar to that observed in p27-/- cells. Overall, in response to glucose starvation, p27 promotes autophagy by facilitating autophagosome trafficking along microtubule tracks by maintaining elevated microtubule acetylation via an ATAT1-dependent mechanism.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1038/s41419-021-03759-9
  14. FASEB Bioadv. 2021 May;3(5): 377-386
      Autophagy classically functions to maintain cell health during stressful conditions by targeting cytosolic components for degradation and recycling via lysosomal pathways. However, accumulating evidence also supports roles for autophagy-related genes (ATGs) in non-degradative processes including cellular secretion. Here, we review emerging roles for the autophagy machinery in regulating extracellular vesicle loading and secretion and discuss how functional coupling of these pathways may impact normal physiology and disease.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1096/fba.2020-00138
  15. Autophagy. 2021 May 10. 1-20
      Eukaryotic cells use post-translational modifications to diversify and dynamically coordinate the function and properties of protein networks within various cellular processes. For example, the process of autophagy strongly depends on the balanced action of kinases and phosphatases. Highly conserved from the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae to humans, autophagy is a tightly regulated self-degradation process that is crucial for survival, stress adaptation, maintenance of cellular and organismal homeostasis, and cell differentiation and development. Many studies have emphasized the importance of kinases and phosphatases in the regulation of autophagy and identified many of the core autophagy proteins as their direct targets. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge on kinases and phosphatases acting on the core autophagy machinery and discuss the relevance of phosphoregulation for the overall process of autophagy.
    Keywords:  Autophagosome; PAS; macroautophagy; phagophore; posttranslational modification
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1080/15548627.2021.1909407
  16. Anal Chim Acta. 2021 Jun 22. pii: S0003-2670(21)00387-1. [Epub ahead of print]1165 338561
      Mitochondria autophagy, also known as mitophagy, is a process in which mitochondria are wrapped by autophagosomes and fused with lysosomes for degradation. This process is essential for mitochondrial quality control. Here, we developed a hybrid aggregate FRET probe through mixed assembly of two cyanine dyes FMOTY and AMTC. In live cells, FMOTY and AMTC exist independently in lysosomes and mitochondria and will not produce interfering FRET background signals. The FRET signal is only generated when mitochondria is transported to lysosomes during mitophagy. This allows the hybridized aggregate to be used as a highly specific probe for monitoring mitophagy.
    Keywords:  Cyanine dye; FRET imaging; Hybrid aggregate; Mitochondria autophagy; Mixed assembly
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aca.2021.338561
  17. Autophagy. 2021 May 10. 1-3
      Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system, which has been found associated with dysfunctional mitochondria. In order to advance our understanding of the complex molecular mechanisms underlying this disease, we analyzed mitophagy, a process fundamental for the elimination of damaged mitochondria through the autophagic process, in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of MS patients. Through a genetic analysis carried out on 203 MS patients and 1000 healthy controls, we identified a natural variant of CALCOCO2/NDP52, a well-known autophagic receptor, associated with and protective in MS. Structural modeling of the CALCOCO2 variant and functional studies highlighted an amino acid substitution (G140E) located near the LC3-interacting region (LIR) motif of CALCOCO2, crucial in controlling mitophagy. In addition, we found that among PBMCs, CALCOCO2 is mainly expressed in B cells and, by mediating mitophagy, it reduces pro-inflammatory cytokine production following stimulation of these cells. Here we summarize these recent findings, discuss the putative protective roles of CALCOCO2 in B cells and its novel association with an autoimmune disease such as MS.
    Keywords:  B cells; CALCOCO2; inflammation; mitochondria; mitophagy; multiple sclerosis
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1080/15548627.2021.1924969
  18. J Cell Biol. 2021 Jul 05. pii: e202012091. [Epub ahead of print]220(7):
      Dynamic targeting of the ULK1 complex to the ER is crucial for initiating autophagosome formation and for subsequent formation of ER-isolation membrane (IM; autophagosomal precursor) contact during IM expansion. Little is known about how the ULK1 complex, which comprises FIP200, ULK1, ATG13, and ATG101 and does not exist as a constitutively coassembled complex, is recruited and stabilized on the ER. Here, we demonstrate that the ER-localized transmembrane proteins Atlastin 2 and 3 (ATL2/3) contribute to recruitment and stabilization of ULK1 and ATG101 at the FIP200-ATG13-specified autophagosome formation sites on the ER. In ATL2/3 KO cells, formation of FIP200 and ATG13 puncta is unaffected, while targeting of ULK1 and ATG101 is severely impaired. Consequently, IM initiation is compromised and slowed. ATL2/3 directly interact with ULK1 and ATG13 and facilitate the ATG13-mediated recruitment/stabilization of ULK1 and ATG101. ATL2/3 also participate in forming ER-IM tethering complexes. Our study provides insights into the dynamic assembly of the ULK1 complex on the ER for autophagosome formation.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1083/jcb.202012091
  19. Med Res Rev. 2021 May 10.
      Over the past decade, significant attention has been given to repurposing Food and Drug Administration approved drugs to treat age-related diseases. In contrast, less consideration has been given to natural bioactive compounds. Consequently, there have been limited attempts to translate these compounds. Autophagy is a fundamental biological pathway linked to aging, and numerous strategies to enhance autophagy have been shown to extend lifespan. Interestingly, there are a number of natural products that are reported to modulate autophagy, and here we describe a number of them that activate autophagy through diverse molecular and cellular mechanisms. Among these, Urolithin A, Spermidine, Resveratrol, Fatty Acids and Phospholipids, Trehalose and Lithium are featured in detail. Finally, we outline possible strategies to optimise and increase the translatability of natural products, with the overall aim of delaying the ageing process and improving human healthspan.
    Keywords:  Urolithin A; ageing; autophagy; drug discovery; fatty acids and phospholipids; geroscience; lipids; lithium; natural products; resveratrol; spermidine; trehalose
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1002/med.21815
  20. Mol Cell. 2021 Apr 30. pii: S1097-2765(21)00324-5. [Epub ahead of print]
      The TSC complex is a critical negative regulator of the small GTPase Rheb and mTORC1 in cellular stress signaling. The TSC2 subunit contains a catalytic GTPase activating protein domain and interacts with multiple regulators, while the precise function of TSC1 is unknown. Here we provide a structural characterization of TSC1 and define three domains: a C-terminal coiled-coil that interacts with TSC2, a central helical domain that mediates TSC1 oligomerization, and an N-terminal HEAT repeat domain that interacts with membrane phosphatidylinositol phosphates (PIPs). TSC1 architecture, oligomerization, and membrane binding are conserved in fungi and humans. We show that lysosomal recruitment of the TSC complex and subsequent inactivation of mTORC1 upon starvation depend on the marker lipid PI3,5P2, demonstrating a role for lysosomal PIPs in regulating TSC complex and mTORC1 activity via TSC1. Our study thus identifies a vital role of TSC1 in TSC complex function and mTORC1 signaling.
    Keywords:  TSC; X-ray crystallography; lysosomes; mTORC1; membrane binding; phosphatidylinositol phosphate
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.molcel.2021.04.019
  21. Nat Commun. 2021 May 14. 12(1): 2849
      Long-term depression (LTD) of synaptic strength can take multiple forms and contribute to circuit remodeling, memory encoding or erasure. The generic term LTD encompasses various induction pathways, including activation of NMDA, mGlu or P2X receptors. However, the associated specific molecular mechanisms and effects on synaptic physiology are still unclear. We here compare how NMDAR- or P2XR-dependent LTD affect synaptic nanoscale organization and function in rodents. While both LTDs are associated with a loss and reorganization of synaptic AMPARs, only NMDAR-dependent LTD induction triggers a profound reorganization of PSD-95. This modification, which requires the autophagy machinery to remove the T19-phosphorylated form of PSD-95 from synapses, leads to an increase in AMPAR surface mobility. We demonstrate that these post-synaptic changes that occur specifically during NMDAR-dependent LTD result in an increased short-term plasticity improving neuronal responsiveness of depressed synapses. Our results establish that P2XR- and NMDAR-mediated LTD are associated to functionally distinct forms of LTD.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-23133-9
  22. Bioorg Chem. 2021 Apr 20. pii: S0045-2068(21)00284-4. [Epub ahead of print]112 104907
      The enzyme leucyl-tRNA synthetase (LRS) and the amino acid leucine regulate the mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway. Leucine-dependent mTORC1 activation depends on GTPase activating protein events mediated by LRS. In a prior study, compound BC-LI-0186 was discovered and shown to interfere with the mTORC1 signaling pathway by inhibiting the LRS-RagD interaction. However, BC-LI-0186 exhibited poor solubility and was metabolized by human liver microsomes. In this study, in silico physicochemical properties and metabolite analysis of BC-LI-0186 are used to investigate the addition of functional groups to improve solubility and microsomal stability. In vitro experiments demonstrated that 7b and 8a had improved chemical properties while still maintaining inhibitory activity against mTORC1. The results suggest a new strategy for the discovery of novel drug candidates and the treatment of diverse mTORC1-related diseases.
    Keywords:  Leucyl-tRNA synthetase (LRS); Protein-protein interaction; Pyrazolone; RagD; mTORC1
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bioorg.2021.104907
  23. J Cell Biol. 2021 Jul 05. pii: e202004182. [Epub ahead of print]220(7):
      LC3s are canonical proteins necessary for the formation of autophagosomes. We have previously established that two paralogs, LC3B and LC3C, have opposite activities in renal cancer, with LC3B playing an oncogenic role and LC3C a tumor-suppressing role. LC3C is an evolutionary late gene present only in higher primates and humans. Its most distinct feature is a C-terminal 20-amino acid peptide cleaved in the process of glycine 126 lipidation. Here, we investigated mechanisms of LC3C-selective autophagy. LC3C autophagy requires noncanonical upstream regulatory complexes that include ULK3, UVRAG, RUBCN, PIK3C2A, and a member of ESCRT, TSG101. We established that postdivision midbody rings (PDMBs) implicated in cancer stem-cell regulation are direct targets of LC3C autophagy. LC3C C-terminal peptide is necessary and sufficient to mediate LC3C-dependent selective degradation of PDMBs. This work establishes a new noncanonical human-specific selective autophagic program relevant to cancer stem cells.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1083/jcb.202004182
  24. Int J Hepatol. 2021 ;2021 6675762
      Autophagy is a conserved catabolic process that eliminates dysfunctional cytosolic biomolecules through vacuole-mediated sequestration and lysosomal degradation. Although the molecular mechanisms that regulate autophagy are not fully understood, recent work indicates that dysfunctional/impaired autophagic functions are associated with the development and progression of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD), and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Autophagy prevents NAFLD and AFLD progression through enhanced lipid catabolism and decreasing hepatic steatosis, which is characterized by the accumulation of triglycerides and increased inflammation. However, as both diseases progress, autophagy can become impaired leading to exacerbation of both pathological conditions and progression into HCC. Due to the significance of impaired autophagy in these diseases, there is increased interest in studying pathways and targets involved in maintaining efficient autophagic functions as potential therapeutic targets. In this review, we summarize how impaired autophagy affects liver function and contributes to NAFLD, AFLD, and HCC progression. We will also explore how recent discoveries could provide novel therapeutic opportunities to effectively treat these diseases.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1155/2021/6675762
  25. Cell Death Dis. 2021 May 13. 12(5): 480
      Acute liver injury (ALI) has multiple causes and results in liver dysfunction. Severe or persistent liver injury eventually leads to liver failure and even death. Pregnane X receptor (PXR)-null mice present more severe liver damage and lower rates of autophagy. 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid (GA) has been proposed as a promising hepatoprotective agent. We hypothesized that GA significantly alleivates D-GalN/LPS-induced ALI, which involved in PXR-mediated autophagy and lysosome biogenesis. We found that GA can significantly decrease hepatocyte apoptosis and increase the hepatic autophagy marker LC3-B. Ad-mCherry-GFP-LC3 tandem fluorescence, RNA-seq and real-time PCR indicated that GA may stabilize autophagosomes and lysosomes and inhibit autophagosome-lysosome fusion. Simultaneously, GA markedly activates PXR, even reversing the D-GalN/LPS-induced reduction of PXR and its downstream genes. In contrast, GA has a weak protective effect in pharmacological inhibition of PXR and PXR-null mice, which significantly affected apoptosis- and autophagy-related genes. PXR knockout interferes with the stability of autophagosomes and lysosomes, preventing GA reducing the expression of lysosomal genes such as Cst B and TPP1, and suppressing autophagy flow. Therefore, we believe that GA increases autophagy by inhibiting autophagosome-lysosome fusion and blocked autophagy flux via activation of PXR. In conclusion, our results show that GA activates PXR to regulate autophagy and lysosome biogenesis, represented by inhibiting autophagosome-lysosome fusion and stabilization of lysosome. These results identify a new mechanism by which GA-dependent PXR activation reduces D-GalN/LPS-induced acute liver injury.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1038/s41419-021-03768-8
  26. Autophagy. 2021 May 10. 1-2
      Macroautophagy/autophagy is the cellular process responsible for the elimination and recycling of aggregated proteins and damaged organelles. Whereas autophagy is strictly regulated by several signaling cascades, the link between this process and the subcellular distribution of its regulatory pathways remains to be established. Our recent work suggests that the compartmentalization of PRKA/PKA (protein kinase cAMP-activated) determines its effects on autophagy. We found that increased cAMP levels generate dramatically different PRKA activity "signatures" mainly dependent on the actions of phosphatases and the distribution of the PRKA holoenzymes containing type II regulatory subunits (PRKAR2A and PRKAR2B; RII). In this punctum we discuss how compartmentalized PRKA signaling events are generated and affect the autophagic flux in specific cell types.
    Keywords:  PKA; PRKA; autophagy; cAMP; compartmentalization; phosphatases
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1080/15548627.2021.1924501
  27. Front Aging Neurosci. 2021 ;13 513605
      Accumulating evidences supported that knock-down of DHCR24 is linked to the pathological risk factors of AD, suggesting a potential role of DHCR24 in AD pathogenesis. However, the molecular mechanism link between DHCR24 and tauopathy remains unknown. Here, in order to elucidate the relationship between DHCR24 and tauopathy, we will focus on the effect of DHCR24 on the tau hyperphosphorylation at some toxic sites. In present study, we found that DHCR24 knock-down significantly lead to the hyperphosphorylation of tau sites at Thr181, Ser199, Thr231, Ser262, Ser396. Moreover, DHCR24 knock-down also increase the accumulation of p62 protein, simultaneously decreased the ratio of LC3-II/LC3-I and the number of autophagosome compared to the control groups, suggesting the inhibition of autophagy activity. In contrast, DHCR24 knock-in obviously abolished the effect of DHCR24 knock-down on tau hyperphosphrylation and autophagy. In addition, to elucidate the association between DHCR24 and tauopathy, we further showed that the level of plasma membrane cholesterol, lipid raft-anchored protein caveolin-1, and concomitantly total I class PI3-K (p110α), phospho-Akt (Thr308 and Ser473) were significantly decreased, resulting in the disruption of lipid raft/caveola and inhibition of PI3-K/Akt signaling in silencing DHCR24 SH-SY5Y cells compared to control groups. At the same time, DHCR24 knock-down simultaneously decreased the level of phosphorylated GSK3β at Ser9 (inactive form) and increased the level of phosphorylated mTOR at Ser2448 (active form), leading to overactivation of GSK3β and mTOR signaling. On the contrary, DHCR24 knock-in largely increased the level of membrane cholesterol and caveolin-1, suggesting the enhancement of lipid raft/caveola. And synchronously DHCR24 knock-in also abolished the effect of DHCR24 knock-down on the inhibition of PI3-K/Akt signaling as well as the overactivation of GSK3β and mTOR signaling. Collectively, our data strongly supported DHCR24 knock-down lead to tau hyperphosphorylation and the inhibition of autophagy by a lipid raft-dependent PI3-K/Akt-mediated GSK3β and mTOR signaling. Taking together, our results firstly demonstrated that the decrease of plasma membrane cholesterol mediated by DHCR24 deficiency might contribute to the tauopathy in AD and other tauopathies.
    Keywords:  Alzheimer's disease 3/; Cholesterol; DHCR24; GSK3β; PI3-K; autophagy; hyperphosphorylation; mTOR
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.3389/fnagi.2021.513605
  28. Autophagy. 2020 Dec 01. 1-16
      As a highly dynamic organelle, mitochondria undergo constant fission and fusion to change their morphology and function, coping with various stress conditions. Loss of the balance between fission and fusion leads to impaired mitochondria function, which plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of Parkinson disease (PD). Yet the mechanisms behind mitochondria dynamics regulation remain to be fully illustrated. Chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA) is a lysosome-dependent process that selectively degrades proteins to maintain cellular proteostasis. In this study, we demonstrated that MARCHF5, an E3 ubiquitin ligase required for mitochondria fission, is a CMA substrate. MARCHF5 interacted with key CMA regulators and was degraded by lysosomes. Severe oxidative stress compromised CMA activity and stabilized MARCHF5, which facilitated DNM1L translocation and led to excessive fission. Increase of CMA activity promoted MARCHF5 turnover, attenuated DNM1L translocation, and reduced mitochondria fragmentation, which alleviated mitochondrial dysfunction under oxidative stress. Furthermore, we showed that conditional expression of LAMP2A, the key CMA regulator, in dopaminergic (DA) neurons helped maintain mitochondria morphology and protected DA neuronal viability in a rodent PD model. Our work uncovers a critical role of CMA in maintaining proper mitochondria dynamics, and loss of this regulatory control may occur in PD and underlie its pathogenic process.Abbreviations: CMA: chaperone-mediated autophagy; DA: dopaminergic; DNM1L: dynamin 1 like; FCCP: carbonyl cyanide 4-(trifluoromethoxy) phenylhydrazone; HSPA8: heat shock protein family A (Hsp70) member 8; LAMP2A: lysosomal associated membrane protein 2A; MARCHF5: membrane-associated ring-CH-type finger 5; MMP: mitochondria membrane potential; OCR: oxygen consumption rate; 6-OHDA: 6-hydroxydopamine; PD: Parkinson disease; SNc: substantia nigra pars compacta; TEM: transmission electron microscopy; TH: tyrosine hydroxylase; TMRE: tetramethylrhodamine ethyl ester perchlorate; WT: wild type.
    Keywords:  Autophagy/mitochondria/oxidative stress/Parkinson disease/proteostasis
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1080/15548627.2020.1848128
  29. Cell Rep. 2021 May 11. pii: S2211-1247(21)00433-2. [Epub ahead of print]35(6): 109099
      Neuronal loss in Parkinson's disease (PD) is associated with impaired proteostasis and accumulation of α-syn microaggregates in dopaminergic neurons. These microaggregates promote seeding of α-synuclein (α-syn) pathology between synaptically linked neurons. However, the mechanism by which seeding is initiated is not clear. Using human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC) models of PD that allow comparison of SNCA mutant cells with isogenic controls, we find that SNCA mutant neurons accumulate α-syn deposits that cluster to multiple endomembrane compartments, specifically multivesicular bodies (MVBs) and lysosomes. We demonstrate that A53T and E46K α-syn variants bind and sequester LC3B monomers into detergent-insoluble microaggregates on the surface of late endosomes, increasing α-syn excretion via exosomes and promoting seeding of α-syn from SNCA mutant neurons to wild-type (WT) isogenic controls. Finally, we show that constitutive inactivation of LC3B promotes α-syn accumulation and seeding, while LC3B activation inhibits these events, offering mechanistic insight into the spread of synucleinopathy in PD.
    Keywords:  LC3; Parkinson's Disease; alpha-synuclein; exosomes; multivesicular bodies; seeding
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2021.109099
  30. Cancer Cell. 2021 May 10. pii: S1535-6108(21)00169-0. [Epub ahead of print]39(5): 596-598
      Su et al. demonstrate that upon inhibiting autophagy, an intracellular nutrient recycling pathway, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma cells upregulate NRF2-mediated transcription of macropinocytosis pathway components, thereby triggering an alternate route for tumors to scavenge nutrients from extracellular sources. Accordingly, the combined inhibition of autophagy and macropinocytosis may improve cancer treatment.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ccell.2021.03.011
  31. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 May 18. pii: e2023604118. [Epub ahead of print]118(20):
      Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is an endogenously generated gaseous signaling molecule, which recently has been implicated in autophagy regulation in both plants and mammals through persulfidation of specific targets. Persulfidation has been suggested as the molecular mechanism through which sulfide regulates autophagy in plant cells. ATG18a is a core autophagy component that is required for bulk autophagy and also for reticulophagy during endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. In this research, we revealed the role of sulfide in plant ER stress responses as a negative regulator of autophagy. We demonstrate that sulfide regulates ATG18a phospholipid-binding activity by reversible persulfidation at Cys103, and that this modification activates ATG18a binding capacity to specific phospholipids in a reversible manner. Our findings strongly suggest that persulfidation of ATG18a at C103 regulates autophagy under ER stress, and that the impairment of persulfidation affects both the number and size of autophagosomes.
    Keywords:  ATG18a; ER stress; autophagy; hydrogen sulfide; persulfidation
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2023604118
  32. Oncogene. 2021 May 14.
      5-Fluorouracil (5-FU)-based chemotherapy is the first-line treatment for colorectal cancer (CRC) but is hampered by chemoresistance. Despite its impact on patient survival, the mechanism underlying chemoresistance against 5-FU remains poorly understood. Here, we identified serine hydroxymethyltransferase-2 (SHMT2) as a critical regulator of 5-FU chemoresistance in CRC. SHMT2 inhibits autophagy by binding cytosolic p53 instead of metabolism. SHMT2 prevents cytosolic p53 degradation by inhibiting the binding of p53 and HDM2. Under 5-FU treatment, SHMT2 depletion promotes autophagy and inhibits apoptosis. Autophagy inhibitors decrease low SHMT2-induced 5-FU resistance in vitro and in vivo. Finally, the lethality of 5-FU treatment to CRC cells was enhanced by treatment with the autophagy inhibitor chloroquine in patient-derived and CRC cell xenograft models. Taken together, our findings indicate that autophagy induced by low SHMT2 levels mediates 5-FU resistance in CRC. These results reveal the SHMT2-p53 interaction as a novel therapeutic target and provide a potential opportunity to reduce chemoresistance.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1038/s41388-021-01815-4
  33. Nat Commun. 2021 May 11. 12(1): 2695
      mTOR signaling, involving mTORC1 and mTORC2 complexes, critically regulates neural development and is implicated in various brain disorders. However, we do not fully understand all of the upstream signaling components that can regulate mTOR signaling, especially in neurons. Here, we show a direct, regulated inhibition of mTOR by Tanc2, an adaptor/scaffolding protein with strong neurodevelopmental and psychiatric implications. While Tanc2-null mice show embryonic lethality, Tanc2-haploinsufficient mice survive but display mTORC1/2 hyperactivity accompanying synaptic and behavioral deficits reversed by mTOR-inhibiting rapamycin. Tanc2 interacts with and inhibits mTOR, which is suppressed by mTOR-activating serum or ketamine, a fast-acting antidepressant. Tanc2 and Deptor, also known to inhibit mTORC1/2 minimally affecting neurodevelopment, distinctly inhibit mTOR in early- and late-stage neurons. Lastly, Tanc2 inhibits mTORC1/2 in human neural progenitor cells and neurons. In summary, our findings show that Tanc2 is a mTORC1/2 inhibitor affecting neurodevelopment.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-22908-4