bims-auttor Biomed News
on Autophagy and mTOR
Issue of 2021‒06‒13
forty-four papers selected by
Viktor Korolchuk
Newcastle University

  1. Dev Cell. 2021 Jun 01. pii: S1534-5807(21)00439-1. [Epub ahead of print]
      Autophagy is an essential catabolic process induced to provide cellular energy sources in response to nutrient limitation through the activation of kinases, like AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and ULK1. Although glucose starvation induces autophagy, the exact mechanism underlying this signaling has yet to be elucidated. Here, we reveal a role for ULK1 in non-canonical autophagy signaling using diverse cell lines. ULK1 activated by AMPK during glucose starvation phosphorylates the lipid kinase PIKfyve on S1548, thereby increasing its activity and the synthesis of the phospholipid PI(5)P without changing the levels of PI(3,5)P2. ULK1-mediated activation of PIKfyve enhances the formation of PI(5)P-containing autophagosomes upon glucose starvation, resulting in an increase in autophagy flux. Phospho-mimic PIKfyve S1548D drives autophagy upregulation and lowers autophagy substrate levels. Our study has identified how ULK1 upregulates autophagy upon glucose starvation and induces the formation of PI(5)P-containing autophagosomes by activating PIKfyve.
    Keywords:  AMPK; PI(5)P; PIKfyve; ULK1; autophagy; glucose starvation; mTOR; phagophore
  2. Sci Rep. 2021 Jun 07. 11(1): 11919
      Selective autophagy requires the autophagy receptor specifically localizing to the target for degradation. In the budding yeast, Atg39 and Atg40 function as an autophagy receptor for the endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-selective autophagy, referred to as ER-phagy. The expression level of the ATG39 gene is increased in response to ER stress and nitrogen starvation. Under unstressed conditions, ATG39 transcription is repressed by Mig1/2 repressors. ER stress activates Snf1 AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which negatively regulates Mig1/2 and consequently derepresses ATG39 transcription. However, ATG39 expression is still induced by ER stress and nitrogen starvation in the absence of Snf1, suggesting that additional molecules are involved in regulation of ATG39 expression. Here, we identify Msn2/4 transcription factors as an activator of ATG39 transcription. Not only ATG39 promoter activity but also ER-phagy are downregulated by loss of Msn2/4 and disruption of Msn2/4-binding consensus sequences located in the ATG39 promoter. We also find that the cAMP-dependent protein kinase pathway is involved in Msn2/4-mediated transcriptional regulation of ATG39. Our results suggest that yeast ER-phagy is appropriately controlled through modulation of the expression level of the ER-phagy receptor involving multiple signaling pathways and transcription factors.
  3. J Cell Sci. 2021 Jun 01. pii: jcs253781. [Epub ahead of print]134(11):
      In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the selective autophagic degradation of mitochondria, termed mitophagy, is critically regulated by the adapter protein Atg32. Despite our knowledge about the molecular mechanisms by which Atg32 controls mitophagy, its physiological roles in yeast survival and fitness remains less clear. Here, we demonstrate a requirement for Atg32 in promoting spermidine production during respiratory growth and heat-induced mitochondrial stress. During respiratory growth, mitophagy-deficient yeast exhibit profound heat-stress induced defects in growth and viability due to impaired biosynthesis of spermidine and its biosynthetic precursor S-adenosyl methionine. Moreover, spermidine production is crucial for the induction of cytoprotective nitric oxide (NO) during heat stress. Hence, the re-addition of spermidine to Atg32 mutant yeast is sufficient to both enhance NO production and restore respiratory growth during heat stress. Our findings uncover a previously unrecognized physiological role for yeast mitophagy in spermidine metabolism and illuminate new interconnections between mitophagy, polyamine biosynthesis and NO signaling.
    Keywords:  ATG32; Autophagy; Mitophagy; Nitric oxide; S-adenosyl methionine; Spermidine
  4. J Biol Chem. 2021 Jun 08. pii: S0021-9258(21)00661-X. [Epub ahead of print] 100861
      Cellular growth and proliferation are primarily dictated by the mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1), which balances nutrient availability against the cell's anabolic needs. Central to the activity of mTORC1 is the RagA-RagC GTPase heterodimer, which under favorable conditions recruits the complex to the lysosomal surface to promote its activity. The RagA-RagC heterodimer has a unique architecture in that both subunits are active GTPases. To promote mTORC1 activity, the RagA subunit is loaded with GTP and the RagC subunit is loaded with GDP, while the opposite nucleotide loading configuration inhibits this signaling pathway. Despite its unique molecular architecture, how the Rag GTPase heterodimer maintains the oppositely loaded nucleotide state remains elusive. Here, we applied structure-function analysis approach to the crystal structures of the Rag GTPase heterodimer, and identified a key hydrogen bond that stabilizes the GDP-loaded state of the Rag GTPases. This hydrogen bond is mediated by the backbone carbonyl of Asn30 in the nucleotide binding domain (NBD) of RagA or Lys84 of RagC, and the hydroxyl group on the side chain of Thr210 in the C-terminal roadblock domain (CRD) of RagA or Ser266 of RagC, respectively. Eliminating this interdomain hydrogen bond abolishes the ability of the Rag GTPase to maintain its functional state, resulting in a distorted response to amino acid signals. Our results reveal that this long-distance interdomain interaction within the Rag GTPase is required for the maintenance and regulation of the mTORC1 nutrient-sensing pathway.
    Keywords:  Rag GTPase; amino acid; enzyme mechanism; hydrogen bond; mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1); nutrient sensing
  5. Arch Pharm Res. 2021 Jun 07.
      The maintenance of lysosomal integrity is essential for lysosome function and cell fate. Damaged lysosomes are degraded by lysosomal autophagy, lysophagy. The mechanism underlying lysophagy remains largely unknown; this study aimed to contribute to the understanding of this topic. A cell-based screening system was used to identify novel lysophagy modulators. Triamterene (6-phenylpteridine-2,4,7-triamine) was identified as one of the most potent lysophagy inducers from the screening process. We found that triamterene causes lysosomal rupture without affecting other cellular organelles and increases autophagy flux in HepG2 cells. Damaged lysosomes in triamterene-treated cells were removed by autophagy-mediated pathway, which was inhibited by depletion of the autophagy regulator, ATG5 or SQSTM1. In addition, treatment of triamterene decreased the integrity of lysosome and cell viability, which were rescued by removing the triamterene treatment in HepG2 cells. Hence, our data suggest that triamterene is a novel lysophagy inducer through the disruption of lysosomal integrity.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; HepG2 cells; LLOMe; Lysophagy; Lysosomal integrity; Triamterene
  6. ACS Sens. 2021 Jun 11.
      Autophagy is an essential cellular degradation process. Impaired autophagy has been linked to multiple disorders, including cancer and neurodegeneration. Tracking the autophagic flux in living cells will provide mechanistic insights into autophagy and will allow rapid screening of autophagy modulators as potential therapeutics. Imaging autophagy to track the autophagic flux demands a cell-permeable probe that can specifically target autophagic vesicles and report on the extent of autophagy. Existing fluorescent protein-based probes for imaging autophagy target autophagic vesicles but are cell-impermeable and degrade with the progress of autophagy resulting in ambiguous information on the later stages of autophagy. Although small-molecule-based autophagy probes can be cell-permeable, they are mostly water-insoluble and often target lysosomes instead of autophagic vesicles leading to incomplete evidence of the early stages of the process. Hence, there is a major gap in the ability to link the imaging data obtained by applying fluorescent sensors to the real extent of autophagy in living cells. To address these challenges, we have combined the desirable features of targetability and cell permeability to develop a novel water-soluble, cell-permeable, visible-light excitable, peptide-based, fluorescent sensor, HCFP, for imaging autophagy and tracking the autophagic flux. The probe readily enters living cells within 30 min of incubation, distinctly targets autophagic vesicles, and spatio-temporally tracks the entire autophagy pathway in living cells via a ratiometric pH-sensitive detection scheme. The salient features of the probe combining targetability with cell permeability should provide an edge in high-throughput screening of autophagy modulators by tracking autophagy live.
    Keywords:  autophagic vesicle-targeting; autophagy sensing; peptide-based autophagy sensor; spatio-temporal autophagy tracking; water-soluble ratiometric autophagy sensor
  7. Autophagy. 2021 Jun 10. 1-3
      Different types of autophagy co-exist in all mammalian cells, however, the specific contribution of each of these autophagic pathways to the maintenance of cellular proteostasis and cellular function remains unknown. In this work, we have investigated the consequences of failure of chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA) in neurons and compared the impact, on the neuronal proteome, of CMA loss to that of macroautophagy loss. We found that these autophagic pathways are non-redundant and that CMA is the main one responsible for maintenance of the metastable proteome (the one at risk of aggregation). We demonstrate that loss of CMA, as the one that occurs in aging, has a synergistic effect with the proteotoxicity associated with neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer disease (AD) and, conversely, that, pharmacological enhancement of CMA is effective in improving both behavior and pathology in two different AD mouse models.
    Keywords:  Alzheimer disease; chaperones; chemical activators of autophagy; lysosomes; metastable proteome; neurodegeneration; protein aggregation; proteostasis; tau; tauopathies
  8. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Jun 15. pii: e2020078118. [Epub ahead of print]118(24):
      Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative disease characterized by myelin damage followed by axonal and ultimately neuronal loss. The etiology and physiopathology of MS are still elusive, and no fully effective therapy is yet available. We investigated the role in MS of autophagy (physiologically, a controlled intracellular pathway regulating the degradation of cellular components) and of mitophagy (a specific form of autophagy that removes dysfunctional mitochondria). We found that the levels of autophagy and mitophagy markers are significantly increased in the biofluids of MS patients during the active phase of the disease, indicating activation of these processes. In keeping with this idea, in vitro and in vivo MS models (induced by proinflammatory cytokines, lysolecithin, and cuprizone) are associated with strongly impaired mitochondrial activity, inducing a lactic acid metabolism and prompting an increase in the autophagic flux and in mitophagy. Multiple structurally and mechanistically unrelated inhibitors of autophagy improved myelin production and normalized axonal myelination, and two such inhibitors, the widely used antipsychotic drugs haloperidol and clozapine, also significantly improved cuprizone-induced motor impairment. These data suggest that autophagy has a causal role in MS; its inhibition strongly attenuates behavioral signs in an experimental model of the disease. Therefore, haloperidol and clozapine may represent additional therapeutic tools against MS.
    Keywords:  antipsychotic drugs; autophagy; mitochondria; multiple sclerosis; remyelination
  9. Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2021 Jun 09.
      Autophagosome maturation comprises fusion with lysosomes and acidification. It is a critical step in the degradation of cytosolic protein aggregates that characterize many neurodegenerative diseases. In order to better understand this process, we studied intracellular trafficking of autophagosomes and aggregates of α-synuclein, which characterize Parkinson's disease and other synucleinopathies. The autophagosomal marker LC3 and the aggregation prone A53T mutant of α-synuclein were tagged by fluorescent proteins and expressed in HEK293T cells and primary astrocytes. The subcellular distribution and movement of these vesicle populations were analyzed by (time-lapse) microscopy. Fusion with lysosomes was assayed using the lysosomal marker LAMP1; vesicles with neutral and acidic luminal pH were discriminated using the RFP-GFP "tandem-fluorescence" tag. With respect to vesicle pH, we observed that neutral autophagosomes, marked by LC3 or synuclein, were located more frequently in the cell center, and acidic autophagosomes were observed more frequently in the cell periphery. Acidic autophagosomes were transported towards the cell periphery more often, indicating that acidification occurs in the cell center before transport to the periphery. With respect to autolysosomal fusion, we found that lysosomes preferentially moved towards the cell center, whereas autolysosomes moved towards the cell periphery, suggesting a cycle where lysosomes are generated in the periphery and fuse to autophagosomes in the cell center. Unexpectedly, many acidic autophagosomes were negative for LAMP1, indicating that acidification does not require fusion to lysosomes. Moreover, we found both neutral and acidic vesicles positive for LAMP1, consistent with delayed acidification of the autolysosome lumen. Individual steps of aggregate clearance thus occur in dedicated cellular regions. During aggregate clearance, autophagosomes and autolysosomes form in the center and are transported towards the periphery during maturation. In this process, luminal pH could regulate the direction of vesicle transport. (1) Transport and location of autophagosomes depend on luminal pH: Acidic autophagosomes are preferentially transported to the cell periphery, causing more acidic autophagosomes in the cell periphery and more neutral autophagosomes at the microtubule organizing center (MTOC). (2) Autolysosomes are transported to the cell periphery and lysosomes to the MTOC, suggesting spatial segregation of lysosome reformation and autolysosome fusion. (3) Synuclein aggregates are preferentially located at the MTOC and synuclein-containing vesicles in the cell periphery, consistent with transport of aggregates to the MTOC for autophagy.
    Keywords:  Amphisomes; Autolysosomes; Autophagy; Lysosomes; MTOC; Time-lapse microscopy; α-Synuclein
  10. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Jun 15. pii: e2025053118. [Epub ahead of print]118(24):
      TANK-binding kinase 1 (TBK1) is a multifunctional kinase with an essential role in mitophagy, the selective clearance of damaged mitochondria. More than 90 distinct mutations in TBK1 are linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and fronto-temporal dementia, including missense mutations that disrupt the abilities of TBK1 to dimerize, associate with the mitophagy receptor optineurin (OPTN), autoactivate, or catalyze phosphorylation. We investigated how ALS-associated mutations in TBK1 affect Parkin-dependent mitophagy using imaging to dissect the molecular mechanisms involved in clearing damaged mitochondria. Some mutations cause severe dysregulation of the pathway, while others induce limited disruption. Mutations that abolish either TBK1 dimerization or kinase activity were insufficient to fully inhibit mitophagy, while mutations that reduced both dimerization and kinase activity were more disruptive. Ultimately, both TBK1 recruitment and OPTN phosphorylation at S177 are necessary for engulfment of damaged mitochondra by autophagosomal membranes. Surprisingly, we find that ULK1 activity contributes to the phosphorylation of OPTN in the presence of either wild-type or kinase-inactive TBK1. In primary neurons, TBK1 mutants induce mitochondrial stress under basal conditions; network stress is exacerbated with further mitochondrial insult. Our study further refines the model for TBK1 function in mitophagy, demonstrating that some ALS-linked mutations likely contribute to disease pathogenesis by inducing mitochondrial stress or inhibiting mitophagic flux. Other TBK1 mutations exhibited much less impact on mitophagy in our assays, suggesting that cell-type-specific effects, cumulative damage, or alternative TBK1-dependent pathways such as innate immunity and inflammation also factor into the development of ALS in affected individuals.
    Keywords:  OPTN; Parkin; TBK1; mitophagy; neurodegeneration
  11. Sci Rep. 2021 Jun 11. 11(1): 12387
      Metabolic and bioenergetic plasticity of immune cells is essential for optimal responses to bacterial infections. AMPK and Parkin ubiquitin ligase are known to regulate mitochondrial quality control mitophagy that prevents unwanted inflammatory responses. However, it is not known if this evolutionarily conserved mechanism has been coopted by the host immune defense to eradicate bacterial pathogens and influence post-sepsis immunosuppression. Parkin, AMPK levels, and the effects of AMPK activators were investigated in human leukocytes from sepsis survivors as well as wild type and Park2-/- murine macrophages. In vivo, the impact of AMPK and Parkin was determined in mice subjected to polymicrobial intra-abdominal sepsis and secondary lung bacterial infections. Mice were treated with metformin during established immunosuppression. We showed that bacteria and mitochondria share mechanisms of autophagic killing/clearance triggered by sentinel events that involve depolarization of mitochondria and recruitment of Parkin in macrophages. Parkin-deficient mice/macrophages fail to form phagolysosomes and kill bacteria. This impairment of host defense is seen in the context of sepsis-induced immunosuppression with decreased levels of Parkin. AMPK activators, including metformin, stimulate Parkin-independent autophagy and bacterial killing in leukocytes from post-shock patients and in lungs of sepsis-immunosuppressed mice. Our results support a dual role of Parkin and AMPK in the clearance of dysfunctional mitochondria and killing of pathogenic bacteria, and explain the immunosuppressive phenotype associated Parkin and AMPK deficiency. AMPK activation appeared to be a crucial therapeutic target for the macrophage immunosuppressive phenotype and to reduce severity of secondary bacterial lung infections and respiratory failure.
  12. Autophagy. 2021 Jun 09. 1-3
      Spermidine is a natural polyamine, central to cellular homeostasis and growth, that promotes macroautophagy/autophagy. The polyamine pathway is highly conserved from bacteria to mammals and spermidine (prominently found in some kinds of aged cheese, wheat germs, nuts, soybeans, and fermented products thereof, among others) is an intrinsic part of the human diet. Apart from nutrition, spermidine is available to mammalian organisms from intracellular biosynthesis and microbial production in the gut. Importantly, externally supplied spermidine (via drinking water or food) prolongs lifespan, activates autophagy, improves mitochondrial function, and refills polyamine pools that decline during aging in various tissues of model organisms, including mice. In two adjacent studies, we explored how dietary spermidine supplementation enhances eEF5/EIF5A hypusination, cerebral mitochondrial function and cognition in aging Drosophila melanogaster and mice.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Drosophila; Pink1; hypusination; learning; memory; mitophagy; polyamines; spermidine
  13. DNA Repair (Amst). 2021 Jun 03. pii: S1568-7864(21)00098-7. [Epub ahead of print]104 103142
      The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a conserved serine/threonine-protein kinase, comprising two subunit protein complexes: mTORC1 and mTORC2. In response to insult and cancer, the mTOR pathway plays a crucial role in regulating growth, metabolism, cell survival, and protein synthesis. Key subunits of mTORC1/2 catalyze the phosphorylation of various molecules, including eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E binding protein 1 (4E-BP1), ribosomal protein S6 kinase β-1 (S6K1). The DNA damage response (DDR) maintains genomic stability and provides an opportunity for treating tumors with defects caused by DNA damaging agents. Many mTOR inhibitors are utilized for the treatment of cancers. However, several clinical trials are still assessing the efficacy of mTOR inhibitors. This paper discusses the role of the mTOR signaling pathway and its regulators in developing cancer. In the following, we will review the interaction between DDR and mTOR signaling and the innovative therapies applied in preclinical and clinical trials for treating cancers.
    Keywords:  Cancer; DNA damage; DNA repair; Therapy; mTOR
  14. J Cell Physiol. 2021 Jun 08.
      Even though aberrant mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling is known to cause cardiomyopathy, its underlying mechanism remains poorly understood. Because augmentation of αB-crystallin and hspB2 was presented in the cortical tubers and lymphangioleiomyomatosis of tuberous sclerosis complex patients, we deciphered the role of αB-crystallin and its adjacent duplicate gene, hspB2, in hyperactive mTOR-induced cardiomyopathy. Cardiac Tsc1 deletion (T1-hKO) caused mouse mTOR activation and cardiomyopathy. Overexpression of αB-crystallin and hspB2 was presented in the hearts of these mice. Knockout of αB-crystallin/hspB2 reversed deficient Tsc1-mediated fetal gene expression, mTOR activation, mitochondrial damage, cardiomyocyte vacuolar degeneration, cardiomyocyte size, and fibrosis of T1-hKO mice. These cardiac-Tsc1; αB-crystallin; hspB2 triple knockout (tKO) mice had improved cardiac function, smaller heart weight to body weight ratio, and reduced lethality compared with T1-hKO mice. Even though activated mTOR suppressed autophagy in T1-hKO mice, ablation of αB-crystallin and hspB2 failed to restore autophagy in tKO mice. mTOR inhibitors suppressed αB-crystallin expression in T1-hKO mice and rat cardiomyocyte line H9C2. Starvation of H9C2 cells activated autophagy and suppressed αB-crystallin expression. Since inhibition of autophagy restored αB-crystallin expression in starved H9C2 cells, autophagy is a negative regulator of αB-crystallin expression. mTOR thus stimulates αB-crystallin expression through suppression of autophagy. In conclusion, αB-crystallin and hspB2 play a pivotal role in Tsc1 knockout-related cardiomyopathy and are therapeutic targets of hyperactive mTOR-associated cardiomyopathy.
    Keywords:  TSC1; cardiomyopathy; hspB2; mTOR; αB-crystallin
  15. Autophagy. 2021 Jun 09. 1-2
      WDR45 and WDR45B are β-propeller proteins belonging to the WIPI (WD repeat domain, phosphoinositide interacting) family. Mutations in WDR45 and WDR45B are genetically linked with beta-propeller protein-associated neurodegeneration (BPAN) and intellectual disability (ID), respectively. WDR45 and WDR45B are homologs of yeast Atg18. Atg18 forms a complex with Atg2 for autophagosome biogenesis, probably by transferring lipids from the ER to phagophores. We revealed that WDR45 and WDR45B are critical for autophagosome-lysosome fusion in neural cells. WDR45 and WDR45B, but not their disease-related mutants, bind to the tether protein EPG5 and facilitate its targeting to late endosomes/lysosomes. In Wdr45 Wdr45b-deficient cells, the formation of tether-SNARE fusion machinery is compromised. The macroautophagy/autophagy deficiency in wdr45 wdr45b DKO cells is ameliorated by suppression of O-GlcNAcylation, which promotes autophagosome maturation. Thus, our results provide insights into the pathogenesis of WDR45- and WDR45B-related neurological diseases.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; BPAN; ID; WDR45; WDR45B; autophagosome maturation
  16. Nat Commun. 2021 06 07. 12(1): 3333
      Lysosomes are involved in nutrient sensing via the mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1). mTORC1 is tethered to lysosomes by the Ragulator complex, a heteropentamer in which Lamtor1 wraps around Lamtor2-5. Although the Ragulator complex is required for cell migration, the mechanisms by which it participates in cell motility remain unknown. Here, we show that lysosomes move to the uropod in motile cells, providing the platform where Lamtor1 interacts with the myosin phosphatase Rho-interacting protein (MPRIP) independently of mTORC1 and interferes with the interaction between MPRIP and MYPT1, a subunit of myosin light chain phosphatase (MLCP), thereby increasing myosin II-mediated actomyosin contraction. Additionally, formation of the complete Ragulator complex is required for leukocyte migration and pathophysiological immune responses. Together, our findings demonstrate that the lysosomal Ragulator complex plays an essential role in leukocyte migration by activating myosin II through interacting with MPRIP.
  17. Contact (Thousand Oaks). 2020 Jan 01. 3 1-13
      Lipid droplets (LDs) are dynamic fat-storage organelles that interact readily with numerous cellular structures and organelles. A prominent LD contact site is with degradative vesicles such as autophagosomes, lysosomes, autolysosomes, and late endosomes. These contacts support lipid catabolism through the selective autophagy of LDs (i.e., lipophagy) or the recruitment of cytosolic lipases to the LD surface (i.e., lipolysis). However, LD-autophagosome contacts serve additional functions beyond lipid catabolism, including the supply of lipids for autophagosome biogenesis. In this review, we discuss the molecular mediators of LD contacts with autophagosomes and other degradative organelles as well as the diverse cellular functions of these contact sites in health and disease.
    Keywords:  autophagosome; autophagy; cell biology; endosome; lipid droplet; lysosome
  18. Autophagy. 2021 Jun 10. 1-3
      Parkinson disease (PD)-causing mutations in the LRRK2 (leucine rich repeat kinase 2) gene hyperactivate LRRK2 kinase activity. Here, we discuss our recent work linking LRRK2 hyperactivation to defective axonal autophagosome transport in neurons. In three different models, we observed that expression of the most common causative mutation for PD, LRRK2G2019S, disrupts processive autophagosome transport in a kinase-dependent manner. Mechanistically, we found that hyperactive LRRK2 recruits SPAG9/JIP4, a motor adaptor known to bind to LRRK2-phosphorylated RAB proteins, to the autophagosomal membrane. Increased SPAG9/JIP4 levels induce abnormal recruitment and activation of kinesin-1, which we propose results in an unproductive tug-of-war between anterograde and retrograde motors bound to autophagosomes. Disruption of autophagosome transport correlates with defective autophagosome maturation, suggesting that hyperactive LRRK2 may impair efficient degradation of autophagosomal cargo. Our work demonstrates that LRRK2 hyperactivation is sufficient to induce defects in autophagosome transport and maturation, further establishing a role of defective autophagy in the pathogenesis of PD.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; JIP4; LRRK2; Parkinson’s disease; axonal transport
  19. Exp Cell Res. 2021 Jun 05. pii: S0014-4827(21)00220-2. [Epub ahead of print]405(2): 112688
      Radiation has been proposed as a priming agent to induce discriminatory luminal biomarkers for vascular targeting and drug delivery in disorders such as brain arteriovenous malformations and cancers. We previously observed ectopic expression of intracellular proteins such as mitochondrial PDCE2 on irradiated endothelium in animal models. In this study we examined the mechanism of PDCE2 trafficking in human endothelial cells to better understand its suitability as a vascular target. Ionizing radiation induced PDCE2 surface localization in association with accumulation of autophagosome markers (L3CB and p62) indicative of late-stage inhibition of autophagic flux. This effect was abolished in the presence of Rapamycin, an autophagy-inducer, but replicated in the presence of Bafilomycin A, an autophagy blocker. PDCE2 co-localized with lysosomal markers of the canonical degradative autophagy pathway in response to radiation but also with recycling endosomes and SNARE proteins responsible for autophagosome-plasma membrane fusion. These findings demonstrate that radiation-induced blockade of autophagic flux stimulates redirection of intracellular molecules such as PDCE2 to the cell surface via a non-canonical secretory autophagy pathway. Intracellular membrane proteins trafficked in this way could provide a unique pool of radiation biomarkers for therapeutic drug delivery.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Endothelial cells; Ionizing radiation; Mitochondria; PDCE2; Senescence; Vascular targeting
  20. Neuropharmacology. 2021 Jun 02. pii: S0028-3908(21)00181-7. [Epub ahead of print] 108627
      Mitochondrial dysfunction manifests as an early event in the substantia nigra (SN) in aging and Parkinson disease. Cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2), the rate-limiting enzyme in the prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) synthesis pathway, is implicated in aging and age-related neurodegenerative diseases; moreover, inhibition of COX-2 expression has been shown to be neuroprotective for nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons. However, it is not known whether the neuroprotective effect of COX-2 inhibition is related to improved mitochondrial function during the aging process. To this end, we explored the effects of the selective COX-2 inhibitor parecoxib on mitochondrial function in the SN of aged rats. We found that parecoxib administration to aged rats for 10 weeks decreased COX-2/PGE2 expression, increased tyrosine hydroxylase and dopamine transporter expression in nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons, and alleviated motor behavioral decline. Decreased malondialdehyde levels and an increased GSH/GSSG ratio as well as enhanced enzymatic activities of catalase and manganese superoxide dismutase in parecoxib-treated aged rats indicate that parecoxib administration elevated antioxidative ability in the SN during the aging process. Parecoxib treatment to aged rats promoted mitochondrial biogenesis by upregulating PGC-1α/NRF-1/TFAM, enhancing mitochondrial fusion by decreasing Drp1 levels and increasing Mfn1 and OPA1 levels, and activated mitophagy by increasing PINK1/Parkin levels while reducing p62/SQSTM1 levels, thereby coordinating mitochondrial homeostasis via inhibiting the COX-2/PGE2 pathway. Thus, our results strongly support the conclusion that parecoxib treatment is conducive to improving mitochondrial dysfunction in the SN upon aging in rats.
    Keywords:  Aged rats; Cyclooxygenase 2; Mitochondria; Parecoxib; Substantia nigra
  21. Cell Death Dis. 2021 Jun 08. 12(6): 593
      Autophagy is an important renal-protective mechanism in septic acute kidney injury (AKI). Receptor interacting protein kinase 3 (RIP3) has been implicated in the renal tubular injury and renal dysfunction during septic AKI. Here we investigated the role and mechanism of RIP3 on autophagy in septic AKI. We showed an activation of RIP3, accompanied by an accumulation of the autophagosome marker LC3II and the autophagic substrate p62, in the kidneys of lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced septic AKI mice and LPS-treated cultured renal proximal tubular epithelial cells (PTECs). The lysosome inhibitor did not further increase the levels of LCII or p62 in LPS-treated PTECs. Moreover, inhibition of RIP3 attenuated the aberrant accumulation of LC3II and p62 under LPS treatment in vivo and in vitro. By utilizing mCherry-GFP-LC3 autophagy reporter mice in vivo and PTECs overexpression mRFP-GFP-LC3 in vitro, we observed that inhibition of RIP3 restored the formation of autolysosomes and eliminated the accumulated autophagosomes under LPS treatment. These results indicated that RIP3 impaired autophagic degradation, contributing to the accumulation of autophagosomes. Mechanistically, the nuclear translocation of transcription factor EB (TFEB), a master regulator of the lysosome and autophagy pathway, was inhibited in LPS-induced mice and LPS-treated PTECs. Inhibition of RIP3 restored the nuclear translocation of TFEB in vivo and in vitro. Co-immunoprecipitation further showed an interaction of RIP3 and TFEB in LPS-treated PTECs. Also, the expression of LAMP1 and cathepsin B, two potential target genes of TFEB involved in lysosome function, were decreased under LPS treatment in vivo and in vitro, and this decrease was rescued by inhibiting RIP3. Finally, overexpression of TFEB restored the autophagic degradation in LPS-treated PTECs. Together, the present study has identified a pivotal role of RIP3 in suppressing autophagic degradation through impeding the TFEB-lysosome pathway in septic AKI, providing potential therapeutic targets for the prevention and treatment of septic AKI.
  22. J Physiol Pharmacol. 2021 Feb;72(1):
      Autophagy is a key process in the maintenance of cellular survival and homeostasis. Inhibition of autophagy results in degenerative changes resembling ageing. We wondered if autophagy can contribute to the pathogenesis of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). We aimed to investigate the serum concentrations of two key autophagy regulators, Beclin-1 and mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR), in patients with exudative AMD. This retrospective case-control study included 38 patients with exudative AMD and 36 sex- and age-matched controls selected among senile cataract patients. Circulating Beclin-1 and mTOR were assessed using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The proteins levels were correlated with age, sex, duration of ocular symptoms, as well as angiographic and optical coherence tomography findings. Serum Beclin-1 levels were much lower in patients with AMD than in controls (median, 0.100 ng/ml versus 1.123 ng/ml; p = 0.0033), while mTOR levels did not differ (median, 4.377 ng/ml versus 3.608 ng/ml; p = 0.4522). Participants of the study older than 70 years had lower Beclin-1 levels than younger ones (p = 0.0444). However, this difference was the most evident in patients with AMD (p = 0.0024). Serum mTOR levels increased with age. In patients with AMD, lower mTOR levels were associated with drusen, while higher levels were observed in those with a fibrous scar in the contralateral eye (p = 0.0212). Our findings suggest that circulating Beclin-1 decreases with age and that is downregulated in patients with AMD.
  23. Autophagy. 2021 Jun 07.
      The eukaryotic-type protein kinase G (PknG), one of the eleven eukaryotic type serine-threonine protein kinase (STPK) in Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), is involved in mycobacterial survival within macrophages, presumably by suppressing phagosome and autophagosome maturation, which makes PknG an attractive drug target. However, the exact mechanism by which PknG inhibits pathogen clearance during mycobacterial infection remains largely unknown. Here, we show that PknG promotes macroautophagy/autophagy induction but inhibits autophagosome maturation, causing an overall effect of blocked autophagy flux and enhanced pathogen intracellular survival. PknG prevents the activation of AKT (AKT serine/threonine kinase) via competitively binding to its pleckstrin homology (PH) domain, leading to autophagy induction. Remarkably, PknG could also inhibit autophagosome maturation to block autophagy flux via targeting host small GTPase RAB14. Specifically, PknG directly interacts with RAB14 to block RAB14-GTP hydrolysis. Furthermore, PknG phosphorylates TBC1D4/AS160 (TBC1 domain family member 4) to suppress its GTPase-activating protein (GAP) activity towards RAB14. In macrophages and in vivo, PknG promotes Mtb intracellular survival through blocking autophagy flux, which is dependent on RAB14. Taken together, our data unveil a dual-functional bacterial effector that tightly regulates host autophagy flux to benefit pathogen intracellular survival.
    Keywords:  AKT; Mycobacterium tuberculosis; RAB14; autophagy flux; protein kinase G
  24. Mol Ther Oncolytics. 2021 Jun 25. 21 242-254
      Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are a large class of noncoding RNAs that are emerging as critical regulators of various cellular processes that are involved in the physiopathological mechanism of many human diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, diabetes mellitus, and carcinogenesis. Autophagy is a conserved and catabolic cellular process that degrades unfolded, misfolded, or damaged protein aggregates or organelles to maintain cellular homeostasis under physiological and pathological conditions. Increasing evidence has shown a link between circRNAs and autophagy that is closely related to the occurrence and development of human diseases, including cancer. In this review, we highlight recent advances in understanding the functions and mechanisms of circRNAs in the regulation of autophagy in cancer. These autophagy-related circRNAs contribute to cancer development and progression in various types of human cancer by activating or inhibiting autophagy. Cumulative research on the relationship between circRNAs and autophagy regulation provides critical insight into the essential role that circRNAs play in carcinogenesis and suggests new targets for tumor therapy.
    Keywords:  autophagy; circRNA; oncogene; regulator; tumor
  25. Methods Mol Biol. 2021 ;2310 113-159
      Mitochondria are dynamic organelles that participate in a broad array of molecular functions within the cell. They are responsible for maintaining the appropriate energetic levels and control the cellular homeostasis throughout the generation of intermediary metabolites. Preserving a healthy and functional mitochondrial population is of fundamental importance throughout the life of the cells under pathophysiological conditions. Hence, cells have evolved fine-tuned mechanisms of quality control that help to preserve the right amount of functional mitochondria to meet the demand of the cell. The specific recycling of mitochondria by autophagy, termed mitophagy, represents the primary contributor to mitochondrial quality control. During this process, damaged or unnecessary mitochondria are recognized and selectively degraded. In the past few years, the knowledge in mitophagy has seen rapid progress, and a growing body of evidence confirms that mitophagy holds a central role in controlling cellular functions and the progression of various human diseases.In this chapter, we will discuss the pathophysiological roles of mitophagy and provide a general overview of the current methods used to monitor and quantify mitophagy. We will also outline the main established approaches to investigate the mitochondrial function, metabolism, morphology, and protein damage.
    Keywords:  Cardiovascular diseases (CVD); Homeostasis; Metabolism; Mitochondrial morphology; Mitochondrial quality control; Pathology
  26. Autophagy. 2021 Jun 08. 1-14
      Macroautophagy/autophagy is emerging as a major pathway that regulates both aging and stem cell function. Previous studies have demonstrated a positive correlation of autophagy with longevity; however, these studies did not directly address the consequence of altered autophagy in stem cells during aging. In this study, we used Becn1F121A/F121A knockin mice (designated as Becn1 KI mice) with the F121A allele in the autophagy gene Becn1 to investigate the consequences of enhanced autophagy in postnatal neural stem cells (NSCs) during aging. We found that increased autophagy protected NSCs from exhaustion and promoted neurogenesis in old (≥18-months-old) mice compared with age-matched wild-type (WT) mice, although it did not affect NSCs in young (3-months-old) mice. After pharmacologically-induced elimination of proliferative cells in the subventricular zone (SVZ), there was enhanced re-activation of quiescent NSCs in old Becn1 KI mice as compared to those in WT mice, with more efficient exit from quiescent status to generate proliferative cells and neuroblasts. Moreover, there was also improved maintenance and increased neuronal differentiation of NSCs isolated from the SVZ of old Becn1 KI mice in in vitro assays. Lastly, the increased neurogenesis in Becn1 KI mice was associated with better olfactory function in aged animals. Together, our results suggest a protective role of increased autophagy in aging NSCs, which may help the development of novel strategies to treat age-related neurodegeneration.
    Keywords:  Aging; beclin 1 mutant mouse; increased autophagy; neural stem cells; neurogenesis; self-renewal
  27. Cell. 2021 Jun 03. pii: S0092-8674(21)00601-2. [Epub ahead of print]
      Mutations in leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) are commonly implicated in the pathogenesis of both familial and sporadic Parkinson's disease (PD). LRRK2 regulates critical cellular processes at membranous organelles and forms microtubule-based pathogenic filaments, yet the molecular basis underlying these biological roles of LRRK2 remains largely enigmatic. Here, we determined high-resolution structures of full-length human LRRK2, revealing its architecture and key interdomain scaffolding elements for rationalizing disease-causing mutations. The kinase domain of LRRK2 is captured in an inactive state, a conformation also adopted by the most common PD-associated mutation, LRRK2G2019S. This conformation serves as a framework for structure-guided design of conformational specific inhibitors. We further determined the structure of COR-mediated LRRK2 dimers and found that single-point mutations at the dimer interface abolished pathogenic filamentation in cells. Overall, our study provides mechanistic insights into physiological and pathological roles of LRRK2 and establishes a structural template for future therapeutic intervention in PD.
    Keywords:  LRRK2; LRRK2 dimer; LRRK2 mutations; Parkinson's disease; kinase
  28. Autophagy. 2021 Jun 08. 1-22
      The overexpansion of adipose tissues leads to obesity and eventually results in metabolic disorders. Garcinia cambogia (G. cambogia) has been used as an antiobesity supplement. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the effects of G. cambogia on cellular processes have yet to be fully understood. Here, we discovered that G. cambogia attenuated the expression of CEBPB (CCAAT/enhancer binding protein (C/EBP), beta), an important adipogenic factor, suppressing its transcription in differentiated cells. In addition, G. cambogia inhibited macroautophagic/autophagic flux by decreasing autophagy-related gene expression and autophagosome formation. Notably, G. cambogia markedly elevated the expression of KLF3 (Kruppel-like factor 3 (basic)), a negative regulator of adipogenesis, by reducing SQSTM1/p62-mediated selective autophagic degradation. Furthermore, increased KLF3 induced by G. cambogia interacted with CTBP2 (C-terminal binding protein 2) to form a transcriptional repressor complex and inhibited Cebpa and Pparg transcription. Importantly, we found that RPS6KA1 and STAT3 were involved in the G. cambogia-mediated regulation of CEBPB and autophagic flux. In an obese animal model, G. cambogia reduced high-fat diet (HFD)-induced obesity by suppressing epididymal and inguinal subcutaneous white adipose tissue mass and adipocyte size, which were attributed to the regulation of targets that had been consistently identified in vitro. These findings provide new insight into the mechanism of G. cambogia-mediated regulation of adipogenesis and suggest molecular links to therapeutic targets for the treatment of obesity.
    Keywords:  Adipogenesis; CEBPB; Garcinia cambogia; KLF3; RPS6KA1; SQSTM1/p62; STAT3; autophagy; obesity
  29. Nat Commun. 2021 06 07. 12(1): 3377
      Animal models of human diseases are classically fed purified diets that contain casein as the unique protein source. We show that provision of a mixed protein source mirroring that found in the western diet exacerbates diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance by potentiating hepatic mTORC1/S6K1 signaling as compared to casein alone. These effects involve alterations in gut microbiota as shown by fecal microbiota transplantation studies. The detrimental impact of the mixed protein source is also linked with early changes in microbial production of branched-chain fatty acids (BCFA) and elevated plasma and hepatic acylcarnitines, indicative of aberrant mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation. We further show that the BCFA, isobutyric and isovaleric acid, increase glucose production and activate mTORC1/S6K1 in hepatocytes. Our findings demonstrate that alteration of dietary protein source exerts a rapid and robust impact on gut microbiota and BCFA with significant consequences for the development of obesity and insulin resistance.
  30. PLoS Comput Biol. 2021 Jun 09. 17(6): e1009073
      Neurons rely on localized mitochondria to fulfill spatially heterogeneous metabolic demands. Mitochondrial aging occurs on timescales shorter than the neuronal lifespan, necessitating transport of fresh material from the soma. Maintaining an optimal distribution of healthy mitochondria requires an interplay between a stationary pool localized to sites of high metabolic demand and a motile pool capable of delivering new material. Interchange between these pools can occur via transient fusion / fission events or by halting and restarting entire mitochondria. Our quantitative model of neuronal mitostasis identifies key parameters that govern steady-state mitochondrial health at discrete locations. Very infrequent exchange between stationary and motile pools optimizes this system. Exchange via transient fusion allows for robust maintenance, which can be further improved by selective recycling through mitophagy. These results provide a framework for quantifying how perturbations in organelle transport and interactions affect mitochondrial homeostasis in neurons, a key aspect underlying many neurodegenerative disorders.
  31. J Cell Mol Med. 2021 Jun 11.
      Adriamycin (ADM) is currently one of the most effective chemotherapeutic agents in breast cancer treatment. However, growing resistance to ADM could lead to treatment failure and poor outcome. PLAC8 was reported as a novel highly conserved protein and functioned as an oncogene or tumour suppressor in various tumours. Here, we found higher PLAC8 expression was correlated with worse outcome and aggressive phenotype in breast cancer. Breast cancer patients with higher PLAC8 expression showed potential ADM resistance. In vitro experiments further confirmed that PLAC8 inhibited by siRNA or enforced overexpression by infecting pcDNA3.1(C)-PLAC8 plasmid correspondingly decreased or increased ADM resistance. Subsequently, we demonstrated that ectopic PLAC8 expression in MCF-7/ADMR cell blocked the accumulation of the autophagy-associated protein LC3 and resulted in cellular accumulation of p62. Rapamycin-triggered autophagy significantly increased cell response to ADM, while the autophagy inhibitor 3-MA enhanced ADM resistance. 3-MA and PLAC8 could synergistically cause ADM resistance via blocking the autophagy process. Additionally, the down-regulation of p62 by siRNA attenuated the activation of autophagy and PLAC8 expression in breast cancer cells. Thus, our findings suggest that PLAC8, through the participation of p62, inhibits autophagy and consequently results in ADM resistance in breast cancer. PLAC8/p62 pathway may act as novel therapeutic targets in breast cancer treatment and has potential clinical application in overcoming ADM resistance.
    Keywords:  PLAC8; adriamycin resistance; autophagy; breast cancer; p62
  32. Bioorg Chem. 2021 May 23. pii: S0045-2068(21)00385-0. [Epub ahead of print]113 105008
      We previously reported 5-((8-methoxy-2-methylquinolin-4-yl)amino)-1H-indole- 2-carbohydrazide derivatives as new Nur77 modulators. In this study, we explored whether the 8-methoxy-2-methylquinoline moiety and bicyclic aromatic rings at the N'-methylene position were critical for their antitumor activity against hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). For this purpose, a small library of 5-substituted 1H-indole-2-carbohydrazide derivatives was designed and synthesized. We found that the 8-methoxy-2-methylquinoline moiety was a fundamental structure for its biological function, while the introduction of the bicyclic aromatic ring into the N'-methylene greatly improved its anti-tumor effect. We found that the representative compound 10E had a high affinity to Nur77. The KD values were in the low micromolar (2.25-4.10 μM), which were coincident with its IC50 values against the tumor cell lines (IC50 < 3.78 μM). Compound 10E could induce autophagic cell death of liver cancer cells by targeting Nur77 to mitochondria while knocking down Nur77 greatly impaired anti-tumor effect. These findings provide an insight into the structure-activity relation of Quinoline-Indole-Schiff base derivatives and further demonstrate that antitumor agents targeting Nur77 may be considered as a promising strategy for HCC therapy.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Nur77; Quinoline-Indole-Schiff base
  33. DNA Repair (Amst). 2021 Jun 08. pii: S1568-7864(21)00111-7. [Epub ahead of print]105 103155
      The accumulation of unrepaired DNA lesions is associated with many pathological outcomes in humans, particularly in neurodegenerative diseases and in normal aging. Evidence supporting a causal role for DNA damage in the onset and progression of neurodegenerative disease has come from rare human patients with mutations in DNA damage response genes as well as from model organisms; however, the generality of this relationship in the normal population is unclear. In addition, the relevance of DNA damage in the context of proteotoxic stress-the widely accepted paradigm for pathology during neurodegeneration-is not well understood. Here, observations supporting intertwined roles of DNA damage and proteotoxicity in aging-related neurological outcomes are reviewed, with particular emphasis on recent insights into the relationships between DNA repair and autophagy, the ubiquitin proteasome system, formation of protein aggregates, poly-ADP-ribose polymerization, and transcription-driven DNA lesions.
    Keywords:  DNA repair; Neurodegeneration; PARP; Protein aggregation; Protein homeostasis
  34. Front Oncol. 2021 ;11 609548
      p62 protein has been implicated in bone metastasis and is a multifunctional adaptor protein usually correlated with autophagy. Herein, we investigated p62 expression and its prognostic significance in bone metastasis of lung adenocarcinoma, and analyzed whether the mechanism involved depends on autophagy. mRNA and protein expression of p62, LC3B and Beclin 1 were detected by reverse transcription-quantitative PCR and western blotting, respectively, in fresh bone metastasis tissues (n=6 cases) and normal cancellous bone tissues (n=3 cases). The association between p62 and LC3B expression and patient prognosis was subsequently analyzed in 62 paraffin-embedded bone metastasis specimens by immunohistochemistry assay. Small interfering RNA (siRNA) was employed to downregulate p62 expression in SPC-A-1 and A549 cells. Cell proliferation and migration ability were tested by CCK8, CCF and Transwell assays respectively. Autophagy was induced by Rapamycin or inhibited by Atg 7 knockout/Chloroquine in A549 cells and p62 and LC3II/I expression were analyzed. After subcutaneous inoculation or intracardial injection of A549 cells into nude mice, the effect of p62 downregulation in vivo was analyzed by histopathological examination. The results showed that p62, LC3B and Beclin 1 mRNA and protein were all overexpressed in bone metastasis tissues (all P<0.01). Patient samples with high p62 expression levels were significantly associated with more bone lesions (>3), shorter overall survival rates and shorter progression free survival rates compared with patients having lower p62 expression (P=0.014, P=0.003, P=0.048, respectively). Cox regression analysis identified p62 expression as an independent prognostic indicator of overall survival of patients with bone metastasis (P=0.007). In vitro p62 downregulation inhibited SPC-A-1 and A549 cells migration but had no effect on cell proliferation. After autophagy induction or inhibition, p62 expression involved in autophagy flux and changed inconsistently according to the switch of LC3I to LC3II in different autophagy conditions. In vivo p62 downregulation had no effect on growth of subcutaneous tumor. Lung or bone metastasis lesion was not found in all mice model. These findings suggested that p62 overexpression promotes tumor cell invasion out of LC3-dependent autophagy, which could be used a potential prognostic biomarker and therapeutic target for bone metastasis of lung adenocarcinoma.
    Keywords:  LC3; autophagy; bone metastasis; lung cancer; p62/sequestosome 1; prognosis
  35. Nat Cell Biol. 2021 Jun;23(6): 631-641
      Exosomes are extracellular vesicles derived from the endosomal compartment that are potentially involved in intercellular communication. Here, we found that frequently used biomarkers of exosomes are heterogeneous, and do not exhibit universal utility across different cell types. To uncover ubiquitous and abundant proteins, we used an unbiased and quantitative proteomic approach based on super-stable isotope labeling with amino acids in cell culture (super-SILAC), coupled to high-resolution mass spectrometry. In total, 1,212 proteins were quantified in the proteome of exosomes, irrespective of the cellular source or isolation method. A cohort of 22 proteins was universally enriched. Fifteen proteins were consistently depleted in the proteome of exosomes compared to cells. Among the enriched proteins, we identified biogenesis-related proteins, GTPases and membrane proteins, such as CD47 and ITGB1. The cohort of depleted proteins in exosomes was predominantly composed of nuclear proteins. We identified syntenin-1 as a consistently abundant protein in exosomes from different cellular origins. Syntenin-1 is also present in exosomes across different species and biofluids, highlighting its potential use as a putative universal biomarker of exosomes. Our study provides a comprehensive quantitative atlas of core proteins ubiquitous to exosomes that can serve as a resource for the scientific community.
  36. Nucleic Acids Res. 2021 Jun 07. pii: gkab452. [Epub ahead of print]
      The biogenesis of small uridine-rich nuclear ribonucleoproteins (UsnRNPs) depends on the methylation of Sm proteins catalyzed by the methylosome and the subsequent action of the SMN complex, which assembles the heptameric Sm protein ring onto small nuclear RNAs (snRNAs). In this sophisticated process, the methylosome subunit pICln (chloride conductance regulatory protein) is attributed to an exceptional key position as an 'assembly chaperone' by building up a stable precursor Sm protein ring structure. Here, we show that-apart from its autophagic role-the Ser/Thr kinase ULK1 (Uncoordinated [unc-51] Like Kinase 1) functions as a novel key regulator in UsnRNP biogenesis by phosphorylation of the C-terminus of pICln. As a consequence, phosphorylated pICln is no longer capable to hold up the precursor Sm ring structure. Consequently, inhibition of ULK1 results in a reduction of efficient UsnRNP core assembly. Thus ULK1, depending on its complex formation, exerts different functions in autophagy or snRNP biosynthesis.
  37. Cell Cycle. 2021 Jun 07. 1-17
      Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the common arrhythmias. Myocardial fibrosis (MF) is closely related to atrial remodeling and leads to AF. MF is the main cause of cardiovascular diseases and a pathological basis of AF. Thus, the underlying mechanism in MF and AF development should be fully elucidated for AF therapeutic innovation. Autophagy is a highly conserved lysosomal degradation pathway, and the relationship between autophagy and MF has been previously shown. Moreover, research reported that quercetin (Que) could ameliorate MF. The current study aimed to explore the mechanism of Que in MF. The results in this study showed that in clinical AF patients and in aged rats, miR-223-3p was high-expressed, while FOXO3 and autophagy pathway related proteins, such as ATG7, p62/SQSTM1 and the ratio of LC3B-II/LC3B-I were significantly inhibited. In vivo and in vitro studies, we found that Que can effectively inhibit the expression of miR-223-3p in AF model cells and rats myocardial tissues, and meanwhile enhance the expression of FOXO3 and activate the autophagy pathway, and significantly inhibit myocardial fibrosis, and improve myocardial remodeling in atrial fibrillation. All in all, in this study, we found that Que prevents isoprenaline-induced MF by increasing autophagy via regulating miR-223-3p/FOXO3.
    Keywords:  Quercetin; autophagy; foxo3; miR-223-3p; myocardial fibrosis
  38. ChemMedChem. 2021 Jun 10.
      Ferroptosis is an iron-dependent form of cell death associated with the accumulation of labile iron and cytotoxic lipid peroxides. Increasing evidence reveals that ferroptosis isn't a self-standing phenomenon and has close connections with other cellular events. Remarkably, recent insights show that ferroptosis is dependent on autophagy, which is a lysosomal degradation pathway responsible for the recycling of damaged cellular components under survival stress. Autophagy is capable of contributing to ferroptosis through degradation of the ferritin, an iron-storage protein, accompanied with the accumulation of iron levels and lipid ROS. The interplay between autophagy and ferroptosis also reveals emerging opportunities for novel tumor therapies, which has inspired the development of many treatment strategies capable of inducing ferroptosis in tumor cells via autophagic pathways based on molecular and nanoparticulate agents. In this review, we summarize the specific molecular and regulatory networks of autophagy-dependent ferroptosis and highlight their physiopathological impact on various aspects of tumor cells. A perspective was also provided regarding the preliminary therapeutic exploitation of ferroptosis/autophagy crosstalk for tumor treatment.
    Keywords:  autophagy; cancer therapy; ferroptosis; iron; lipid peroxidation
  39. Aging (Albany NY). 2021 04 21. 13(10): 13626-13643
      BACKGROUND: E2F2 is a member of the E2F transcription factor family and has important but not fully understood biological functions in cancers. The biological role of E2F2 in gastric cancer (GC) also remains unclear.METHODS: We examined the expression levels of E2F2 in GC using publicly available datasets such as TIMER, Oncomine, GEPIA, UALCAN, etc., and in our patient cohort, using quantitative real-time PCR, western blotting, and immunohistochemistry. We further investigated the effects of E2F2 on phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling, autophagy, and the migration and invasion of GC cells by the wound healing assay, Transwell assay and transmission electron microscopy.
    RESULTS: E2F2 was highly expressed in both GC tissues and cells compared with normal gastric tissues/cells. High E2F2 expression was associated with poor overall survival (OS). In addition, the expression of E2F2 in GC was strongly correlated with a variety of immune markers. E2F2 overexpression promoted the migration and invasiveness of GC cells in vitro through inhibition of PI3K/Akt/mTOR-mediated autophagy.
    CONCLUSION: High E2F2 expression was associated with the characteristics of invasive tumors and poor prognosis. E2F2 also had potential modulatory effects on tumor immunity. We discovered a novel function of E2F2 in the regulation of PI3K/Akt/mTOR-mediated autophagy and the downstream processes of cell migration and invasion.
    Keywords:  E2F2; PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway; autophagy; gastric cancer; metastasis
  40. Cell Biosci. 2021 Jun 07. 11(1): 107
      BACKGROUND: Autophagy is required for oogenesis and plays a critical role in response to aging caused by oxidative stress. However, there have been no reports on regulation of cytoprotective autophagy in female germline stem cells (FGSCs) in response to aging caused by oxidative stress.RESULTS: We found that Spermidine (SPD) significantly increased protein expression of autophagy markers microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3 beta-II (MAP1LC3B-II/LC3B-II) and sequestosome-1/p62 (SQSTM1/p62), and evoked autophagic flux in FGSCs. Moreover, SPD increased the number and viability of FGSCs in vitro. Further, we found that SPD significantly reduced basal or hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)-induced up-regulated protein expression of the aging markers, cyclin dependent kinase inhibitor 2A (p16/CDKN2A) and tumor protein 53 (p53). After knockdown of p62 in FGSCs, p16 protein levels were significant higher compared with controls. However, protein p16 levels were not significantly changed in p62 knockdown FGSCs with SPD treatment compared with without SPD. Moreover, SPD significantly changed the expression of autophagy-related genes and pathways in FGSCs, as shown by bioinformatics analysis of RNA sequencing data. Additionally, SPD significantly inhibited AKT/mTOR phosphorylation.
    CONCLUSIONS: SPD induces cytoprotective autophagy in FGSCs in vitro and ameliorates cellular senescence of FGSCs induced by H2O2. Furthermore, SPD can ameliorate cellular senescence of FGSCs through p62. SPD might induce autophagy in FGSCs via the PI3K/Akt pathway. Our findings could be helpful for delaying aging of female germ cells due to oxidative stress and preserving female fertility.
    Keywords:  Anti- oxidative stress; Anti-aging; Autophagy; Female germline stem cells; Spermidine; p62
  41. Aging Dis. 2021 Jun;12(3): 852-867
      Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia in elderly that serves to be a formidable socio-economic and healthcare challenge in the 21st century. Mitochondrial dysfunction and impairment of mitochondrial-specific autophagy, namely mitophagy, have emerged as important components of the cellular processes contributing to the development of AD pathologies, namely amyloid-β plaques (Aβ) and neurofibrillary tangles (NFT). Here, we highlight the recent advances in the association between impaired mitophagy and AD, as well as delineate the potential underlying mechanisms. Furthermore, we conduct a systematic review the current status of mitophagy modulators and analyzed their relevant mechanisms, evaluating on their advantages, limitations and current applications in clinical trials for AD patients. Finally, we describe how deep learning may be a promising method to rapid and efficient discovery of mitophagy inducers as well as general guidance for the workflow of the process.
    Keywords:  Alzheimer’s disease; deep learning; mitophagy; mitophagy inducers; systematic review
  42. Ageing Res Rev. 2021 Jun 02. pii: S1568-1637(21)00123-9. [Epub ahead of print]70 101376
      Aging can not only shorten a healthy lifespan, but can also lead to multi-organ dysfunction and failure. Anti-aging is a complex and worldwide conundrum for eliminating the various pathologies of senility. The past decade has seen great progress in the understanding of the aging-associated signaling pathways and their application for developing anti-aging approaches. Currently, some drugs can improve quality of life. The activation of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling is one of the core and detrimental mechanisms related to aging; rapamycin can reduce the rate of aging, improve age-related diseases by inhibiting the mTOR pathway, and prolong lifespan and healthspan effectively. However, the current evidence for rapamycin in lifespan extension and organ aging is fragmented and scattered. In this review, we summarize the efficacy and safety of rapamycin in prolonging a healthy lifespan by systematically alleviating aging in multiple organ systems, i.e., the nervous, urinary, digestive, circulatory, motor, respiratory, endocrine, reproductive, integumentary and immune systems, to provide a theoretical basis for the future clinical application of rapamycin in anti-aging.
    Keywords:  Adverse effects; Healthspan; Organ aging; Rapamycin; mTOR signaling
  43. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2021 Jun 02. pii: S0278-5846(21)00130-5. [Epub ahead of print] 110371
      Ketamine exhibits rapid and sustained antidepressant responses, but its repeated use may cause adverse effects. Augmentation strategies have been postulated to be useful for the management/reduction of ketamine's dose and its adverse effects. Based on the studies that have suggested that ketamine and guanosine may share overlapping mechanisms of action, the present study investigated the antidepressant-like effect of subthreshold doses of ketamine and guanosine in mice subjected to repeated administration of corticosterone (CORT) and the role of mTORC1 signaling for this effect. The ability of the treatment with ketamine (0.1 mg/kg, i.p.) plus guanosine (0.01 mg/kg, p.o.) to counteract the depressive-like behavior induced by CORT (20 mg/kg, p.o., for 21 days) in mice, was paralleled with the prevention of the CORT-induced reduction on BDNF levels, Akt (Ser473) and GSK-3β (Ser9) phosphorylation, and PSD-95, GluA1, and synapsin immunocontent in the hippocampus. No changes on mTORC1 and p70S6K immunocontent were found in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex of any experimental group. No alterations on BDNF, Akt/GSK-3β, mTORC1/p70S6K, and synaptic proteins were observed in the prefrontal cortex of mice. The antidepressant-like and pro-synaptogenic effects elicited by ketamine plus guanosine were abolished by the pretreatment with rapamycin (0.2 nmol/site, i.c.v., a selective mTORC1 inhibitor). Our results showed that the combined administration of ketamine and guanosine at low doses counteracted CORT-induced depressive-like behavior and synaptogenic disturbances by activating mTORC1 signaling. This study supports the notion that the combined administration of guanosine and ketamine may be a useful therapeutic strategy for the management of MDD.
    Keywords:  Augmentation strategy; Corticosterone; Depression; Guanosine; Ketamine