bims-auttor Biomed News
on Autophagy and mTOR
Issue of 2020‒04‒19
thirty-one papers selected by
Viktor Korolchuk, Newcastle University

  1. Biosci Rep. 2020 Apr 14. pii: BSR20200905. [Epub ahead of print]
      Autophagy is dependent upon lysosomes, which fuse with the autophagosome to complete the autophagic process and whose acidic interior permits the activity of their intraluminal degradative enzymes. Chloroquine (CQ) and bafilomycin A1 (BafA) each cause alkalinisation of the lumen and thus impair lysosomal function, although by distinct mechanisms. CQ diffuses into lysosomes and undergoes protonation, while BafA inhibits the ability of the vacuolar type H+-ATPase (v-ATPase) to transfer protons into the lysosome. In this study, we examine the impact of CQ and BafA on the activity of mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1), inhibition of which is an early step in promoting autophagy. We find each compound inhibits mTORC1 signaling, without affecting levels of protein components of the mTORC1 signaling pathway. Furthermore, these effects are not related to these agents' capacity to inhibit autophagy or the reduction of amino acid supply from lysosomal proteolysis. Instead, our data indicate that the reduction in mTORC1 signaling appears to be due to the accumulation of lysosomal storage material. However, there are differences in responses to these agents, for instance, in their abilities to upregulate direct targets of transcription factor EB (TFEB), a substrate of mTORC1 that drives transcription of many lysosomal and autophagy-related genes. Nonetheless, our data imply that widely used agents that alkalinise intralysosomal pH are mimetics of acute lysosomal storage disorders and emphasise the importance of considering the result of CQ and BafA on mTORC1 signaling when interpreting the effects of these agents on cellular physiology.
    Keywords:  autophagy; bafilomycin A; chloroquine; lysosomal storage disorders; lysosome; mammalian target of rapamycin
  2. Autophagy. 2020 Apr 15. 1-3
      Macroautophagy/autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved cellular degradation and recycling process that is tightly regulated by external stimuli, diet, and stress. Our recent findings suggest that in C. elegans, a nutrient sensing pathway mediated by MTORC2 (mechanistic target of rapamycin kinase complex 2) and its downstream effector kinase SGK-1 (serum- and glucocorticoid-inducible kinase homolog 1) suppresses autophagy, involving mitophagy. Induced autophagy/mitophagy in MTORC2-deficient animals slows down development and impairs reproduction independently of the SGK-1 effectors DAF-16/FOXO and SKN-1/NFE2L2/NRF2. In this punctum, we discuss how TORC2-SGK-1 signaling might regulate autophagic turnover and its impact on mitochondrial homeostasis via linking mitochondria-derived reactive oxygen species (mtROS) production to mitophagic turnover.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; MTORC (mechanistic target of rapamycin kinase complex); ROS (reactive oxygen species); SGK-1 (serum- and glucocorticoid-inducible kinase homolog 1); VDAC1 (voltage dependent anion channel 1); mitophagy
  3. Trends Cell Biol. 2020 May;pii: S0962-8924(20)30033-7. [Epub ahead of print]30(5): 384-398
      The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is the largest organelle in cells and has fundamental functions, such as folding, processing, and trafficking of proteins, cellular metabolism, and ion storage. To maintain its function, it is turned over constitutively, and even more actively under certain stress conditions. Quality control of the ER is mediated primarily by two pathways: the ubiquitin-proteasome system and autophagy (termed 'ER-phagy'). The identification of ER-phagy adaptor molecules has shed light on the mechanisms and physiological significance of ER-phagy. Here, we describe recent findings on various types of ER-phagy and present unanswered questions related to their mechanism and regulation.
    Keywords:  ER storage diseases; ER-phagy; macroautophagy; microautophagy; selective autophagy
  4. FEBS J. 2020 Apr 17.
      Autophagosomes are vital organelles required to facilitate the lysosomal degradation of cytoplasmic cargo, thereby playing an important role in maintaining cellular homeostasis. A number of autophagy-related (ATG) protein complexes are recruited to the site of autophagosome biogenesis where they act to facilitate membrane growth and maturation. Regulated recruitment of ATG complexes to autophagosomal membranes is essential for their autophagic activities and is required to ensure the efficient engulfment of cargo destined for lysosomal degradation. In this review, we discuss our current understanding of the spatiotemporal hierarchy between ATG proteins, examining the mechanisms underlying their recruitment to membranes. A particular focus is placed on the relevance of phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate (PI(3)P) and the extent to which the core autophagy players are reliant on this lipid for their localisation to autophagic membranes. In addition, open questions and potential future research directions regarding the membrane recruitment and displacement of ATG proteins are discussed here.
    Keywords:  ATG; PI(3)P; autophagosome; autophagy; membrane recruitment; phagophore
  5. Autophagy. 2020 Apr 14.
      Mitophagy is a conserved intracellular catabolic process responsible for the selective removal of dysfunctional or superfluous mitochondria to maintain mitochondrial quality and need in cells. Here, we examine the mechanisms of receptor-mediated mitophagy activation, with the focus on BNIP3L/NIX mitophagy receptor, proven to be indispensable for selective removal of mitochondria during the terminal differentiation of reticulocytes. The molecular mechanism of selecting damaged mitochondria from healthy ones are still very obscure. We investigated BNIP3L dimerization as a potentially novel molecular mechanism underlying BNIP3L-dependent mitophagy. Forming stable homodimers, BNIP3L recruits autophagosomes more robustly than its monomeric form. Amino acid substitutions of key transmembrane residues of BNIP3L, BNIP3LG204A or BNIP3LG208V, led to the abolishment of dimer formation, resulting in the lower LC3A-BNIP3L recognition and subsequently lower mitophagy induction. Moreover, we identified the serine 212 as the main amino acid residue at the C-terminal of BNIP3L, which extends to the intermembrane space, responsible for dimerization. In accordance, the phosphomimetic mutation BNIP3LS212E leads to a complete loss of BNIP3L dimerization. Thus, the interplay between BNIP3L phosphorylation and dimerization indicates that the combined mechanism of LIR phosphorylation and receptor dimerization is needed for proper BNIP3L-dependent mitophagy initiation and progression.
    Keywords:  BNIP3L/NIX; autophagy; dimerization; mitophagy; selective autophagy
  6. Biol Chem. 2020 Apr 01. pii: /j/bchm.just-accepted/hsz-2020-0135/hsz-2020-0135.xml. [Epub ahead of print]
      Mitochondria are highly vulnerable organelles based on their complex biogenesis, entailing dependence on nuclear gene expression and efficient import strategies. They are implicated in a wide spectrum of vital cellular functions, including oxidative phosphorylation, iron-sulfur cluster synthesis, regulation of calcium homeostasis and apoptosis. Moreover, damaged mitochondria can release mitochondrial components, such as mtDNA or cardiolipin, which are sensed as danger-associated molecular patterns and trigger innate immune signaling. Thus, dysfunctional mitochondria pose a thread not only to the cellular but also to the organismal integrity. The elimination of dysfunctional and damaged mitochondria by selective autophagy, called mitophagy, is a major mechanism of mitochondrial quality control. Certain types of stress-induced mitophagy are regulated by the mitochondrial kinase PINK1 and the E3 ubiquitin ligase Parkin, which are both linked to autosomal recessive Parkinson's disease.
    Keywords:  Parkinson; mitochondria; quality control; selective autophagy; ubiquitin
  7. Front Cell Neurosci. 2020 ;14 70
      Macroautophagy (hereafter referred to as autophagy) plays a critical role in neuronal function related to development and degeneration. Here, we investigated whether autophagy is developmentally regulated in the striatum, a brain region implicated in neurodevelopmental disease. We demonstrate that autophagic flux is suppressed during striatal postnatal development, reaching adult levels around postnatal day 28 (P28). We also find that mTOR signaling, a key regulator of autophagy, increases during the same developmental period. We further show that mTOR signaling is responsible for suppressing autophagy, via regulation of Beclin-1 and VPS34 activity. Finally, we discover that autophagy is downregulated during late striatal postnatal development (P28) in mice with in utero exposure to valproic acid (VPA), an established mouse model of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). VPA-exposed mice also display deficits in striatal neurotransmission and social behavior. Correction of hyperactive mTOR signaling in VPA-exposed mice restores social behavior. These results demonstrate that neurons coopt metabolic signaling cascades to developmentally regulate autophagy and provide additional evidence that mTOR-dependent signaling pathways represent pathogenic signaling cascades in ASD mouse models that are active during specific postnatal windows.
    Keywords:  autism; autophagy; development; mTOR; striatum; valproic acid
  8. Mol Cell Proteomics. 2020 Apr 16. pii: mcp.RA120.001983. [Epub ahead of print]
      The degradation of intra- and extracellular proteins is essential in all cell types and mediated by two systems, the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) and the autophagy-lysosome pathway. This study investigates the changes in autophagosomal and lysosomal proteomes upon inhibition of proteasomes by bortezomib (BTZ) or MG132. We find an increased abundance of more than 50 proteins in lysosomes of cells in which the proteasome is inhibited. Among those are dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR), ß-Catenin and 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzym-A (HMGCoA)-reductase. Since these proteins are known to be degraded by the proteasome they seem to be compensatorily delivered to the autophagosomal pathway when the proteasome is inactivated. Surprisingly, most of the proteins which show increased amounts in the lysosomes of BTZ or MG132 treated cells are proteasomal subunits. Thus an inactivated, non-functional proteasome is delivered to the autophagic pathway. Native gel electrophoresis shows that the proteasome reaches the lysosome intact and not disassembled. Adaptor proteins, which target proteasomes to autophagy, have been described in Arabidopsis, Saccharomyces and upon starvation in mammalians. However, in cell lines deficient of these proteins or their mammalian orthologues, respectively, the transfer of proteasomes to the lysosome is not impaired. Obviously, these proteins do not play a role as autophagy adaptor proteins in mammalian cells. We can also show that chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA) does not participate in the proteasome delivery to the lysosomes. In autophagy-related (ATG)-5 and ATG7 deficient cells the delivery of inactivated proteasomes to the autophagic pathway was only partially blocked, indicating the existence of at least two different pathways by which inactivated proteasomes can be delivered to the lysosome in mammalian cells.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Lysosome; Proteases*; Proteasome; Protein Degradation*; Protein Turnover*; Subcellular analysis
  9. Mech Ageing Dev. 2020 Apr 11. pii: S0047-6374(20)30041-5. [Epub ahead of print] 111245
      Mitochondria are essential organelles that generate energy to fuel myocardial contraction. Accumulating evidence also suggests that, in the heart, mitochondria may contribute to specific aspects of disease progression through the regulations of specific metabolic intermediates, as well as the transcriptional and epigenetic states of cells. If damaged, the mitochondria and their related pathways are hindered, which may result in or contribute to the development of a wide range of cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, the maintenance of cardiac mitochondrial function and integrity through specific mitochondrial quality control mechanisms is critical for cardiovascular health. Mitophagy is part of the overall mitochondrial quality control process, and acts as a specialized autophagic pathway that mediates the lysosomal clearance of damaged mitochondria. In response to cardiac stress and injury, the pathways associated with mitophagy are triggered resulting in the removal of damaged mitochondrial, thereby maintaining cardiac homeostasis. In addition, recent studies have demonstrated an essential role for mitophagy in both developmental and disease-related metabolic transitioning of cardiac mitochondria. Here, we discuss the physiological and the pathological roles of mitophagy in the heart, the underlying molecular mechanisms, as well as potential therapeutic strategies based on mitophagic modulation.
    Keywords:  autophagy; cardiovascular disease; heart failure; mitochondria; mitophagy
  10. J Cell Sci. 2020 Apr 15. pii: jcs.236661. [Epub ahead of print]
      Epithelial cells such as liver-resident hepatocytes rely heavily on the Rab family of small GTPases to perform membrane trafficking events that dictate cell physiology and metabolism. Not surprisingly, disruption of several Rabs can manifest in metabolic diseases or cancer. Rab32 is expressed in many secretory epithelial cells but its role in cellular metabolism is virtually unknown. In this study, we find that Rab32 associates with lysosomes and regulates proliferation and cell size of Hep3B hepatoma and HeLa cells. Specifically, we identify that Rab32 supports mTORC1 signaling under basal and amino acid stimulated conditions. Consistent with inhibited mTORC1, an increase in nuclear TFEB localization and lysosome biogenesis is also observed in Rab32-depleted cells. Finally, we find that Rab32 interacts with mTOR kinase and that loss of Rab32 reduces the association of mTOR and mTORC1 pathway proteins with lysosomes, suggesting that Rab32 regulates lysosomal mTOR trafficking. In summary, these findings suggest that Rab32 functions as a novel regulator of cellular metabolism through supporting mTORC1 signaling.
    Keywords:  Lysosome; MTORC1; S6K; Small Rab GTPase; TFEB
  11. Front Mol Neurosci. 2020 ;13 42
      Cellular communication processes are highly dynamic and mediated, at least in part, by contacts between various membrane structures. The endoplasmic reticulum (ER), the major biosynthetic organelle of the cell, establishes an extensive network with other membrane structures to regulate the transport of intracellular molecules. Vacuole membrane protein 1 (VMP1), an ER-localized metazoan-specific protein, plays important roles in the formation of autophagosomes and communication between the ER and other organelles, including mitochondria, autophagosome precursor membranes, Golgi, lipid droplets, and endosomes. Increasing evidence has indicated that autophagy and ER-membrane communication at membrane contact sites are closely related to neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. In this review, we summarize the roles of VMP1 in autophagy and ER-membrane contacts and discuss their potential implications in neurodegenerative disorders.
    Keywords:  VMP1; autophagy; endoplasmic reticulum; membrane contact sites; neurodegenerative disorders
  12. J Mol Cell Biol. 2020 Apr 13. pii: mjaa017. [Epub ahead of print]
      The tumor suppressor p73 is a homolog of p53 and is capable of inducing cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. Here, we identify nerve growth factor receptor (NGFR, p75NTR, or CD271) as a novel negative p73 regulator. p73 activates NGFR transcription, which, in turn, promotes p73 degradation in a negative feedback loop. NGFR directly binds to p73's central DNA-binding domain and suppresses p73 transcriptional activity as well as p73-mediated apoptosis in cancer cells. Surprisingly, we uncover a previously unknown mechanism of NGFR-facilitated p73 degradation through the chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA) pathway. Collectively, our studies demonstrate a new oncogenic function for NGFR in inactivating p73 activity by promoting its degradation through the CMA.
    Keywords:  HSPA8; Lamp2a; NGFR; chaperone-mediated autophagy; p73
  13. PLoS Genet. 2020 Apr 13. 16(4): e1008738
      Nutrient utilization and energy metabolism are critical for the maintenance of cellular homeostasis. A mutation in the C9orf72 gene has been linked to the most common forms of neurodegenerative diseases that include amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Here we have identified an evolutionarily conserved function of C9orf72 in the regulation of the transcription factor EB (TFEB), a master regulator of autophagic and lysosomal genes that is negatively modulated by mTORC1. Loss of the C. elegans orthologue of C9orf72, ALFA-1, causes the nuclear translocation of HLH-30/TFEB, leading to activation of lipolysis and premature lethality during starvation-induced developmental arrest in C. elegans. A similar conserved pathway exists in human cells, in which C9orf72 regulates mTOR and TFEB signaling. C9orf72 interacts with and dynamically regulates the level of Rag GTPases, which are responsible for the recruitment of mTOR and TFEB on the lysosome upon amino acid signals. These results have revealed previously unknown functions of C9orf72 in nutrient sensing and metabolic pathways and suggest that dysregulation of C9orf72 functions could compromise cellular fitness under conditions of nutrient stress.
  14. FASEB J. 2020 Apr 13.
      Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS) arises when a truncated form of farnesylated prelamin A accumulates at the nuclear envelope, leading to misshapen nuclei. Previous studies of adult Zmpste24-deficient mice, a mouse model of progeria, have reported a metabolic response involving inhibition of the mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) kinase and activation of autophagy. However, exactly how mTOR or autophagy is involved in progeria remains unclear. Here, we investigate this question by crossing Zmpste24+/- mice with mice hypomorphic in mTOR (mTOR△/+ ), or mice heterozygous in autophagy-related gene 7 (Atg7+/- ). We find that accumulation of prelamin A induces premature aging through mTOR overactivation and impaired autophagy in newborn Zmpste24-/- mice. Zmpste24-/- mice with genetically reduced mTOR activity, but not heterozygosity in Atg7, show extended lifespan. Moreover, mTOR inhibition partially restores autophagy and S6K1 activity. We also show that progerin interacts with the Akt phosphatase to promote full activation of the Akt/mTOR signaling pathway. Finally, although we find that genetic reduction of mTOR postpones premature aging in Zmpste24 KO mice, frequent embryonic lethality occurs. Together, our findings show that over-activated mTOR contributes to premature aging in Zmpste24-/- mice, and suggest a potential strategy in treating HGPS patients with mTOR inhibitors.
    Keywords:  HGPS; Zmpste24; prelamin A; premature aging; progerin
  15. Brain Res Bull. 2020 Apr 12. pii: S0361-9230(20)30138-6. [Epub ahead of print]
      Endocannabinoid system activity contributes to the homeostatic defense against aging and thus may counteract the progression of brain aging. The cannabinoid type 1 (CB1) receptor activity declines with aging in the brain, which impairs neuronal network integrity and cognitive functions. However, the underlying mechanisms that link CB1 activity and memory decline remain unknown. Mitochondrial activity profoundly influences neuronal function, therefore age-dependent mitochondrial activity change is one of the known hallmarks of brain aging. As CB1 receptor is expressed on mitochondria and may regulate neuronal energy metabolism in hippocampus, we hypothesized that CB1 receptors might influence mitochondria in hippocampal neurons. We found that CB1 receptor significantly affected mitochondrial autophagy (mitophagy) and morphology in an age-dependent manner. We also found that Serine 65-phosphorylated ubiquitin, a key marker for mitophagy, was reduced in adult CB1-deficient mice (CB1-KO) compared to those in wild type controls, particularly in CA1 pyramidal cell layer. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) analysis showed reduced mitophagy-like events in hippocampus of adult CB1-KO. TEM analysis also showed an increase in thin and elongated mitochondria in hippocampal neurons of adult CB1-KO. 3D reconstruction revealed that mitochondrial morphology in adult CB1-KO was altered as represented by an enhanced density of elongated and interconnected mitochondria. Altogether, these findings suggest that reduced CB1 signaling in CB1-KO mice leads to reduced mitophagy and abnormal mitochondrial morphology in hippocampal neurons during aging. These mitochondrial changes might be due to the impairments in mitochondrial quality control system, which links age-related decline in CB1 activity and impaired memory.
    Keywords:  Aging; CB1 receptor; Hippocampus; Mitochondria; Mitophagy
  16. Autophagy. 2020 Apr 16. 1-3
      The de novo synthesis of autophagic vesicles is strongly dependent on sufficient lipid supply. Recently, the RAB GTPase RAB18 was shown to affect autophagy by mediating fatty acid release from lipid droplets, which are lipid sources for autophagosome formation. The stable loss of RAB18 interfered with fatty acid release from the lipid reservoirs and provoked autophagy network adaptations aiming to maintain autophagic activity under lipid limiting conditions.
    Keywords:  Adaptation; RAB18; RAB3GAP complex; autophagosome formation; autophagy; lipid availability; lipid droplets
  17. Front Oncol. 2020 ;10 348
      Ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) and autophagy-lysosome pathway (ALP) are two major systems for protein quality control (PQC) in eukaryotic cells. Interconnectivity between these two pathways has been suggested, but the molecular detail of how they impact each other remains elusive. Proteasomal deubiquitinase (DUB) is an important constituent in the UPS and has proved to be a novel anticancer target. We have previously found that a novel DUB inhibitor, nickel complex NiPT, induces apoptosis in both cultured tumor cell lines and cancer cells from acute myeloid leukemia human patients. In this study, we found that NiPT triggered autophagy both in vitro and in vivo. Mechanistically, NiPT targets two DUBs, USP14, and UCHL5, and increased the total cellular level of polyubiquitination. Deletion of the Ubiquitin Associated (UBA) domain of P62 that is required for polyubiquitin binding prevented NiPT-induced autophagy. NiPT-induced autophagy is through either concomitant activation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and inhibition of mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling, or eliciting endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-stress by activating activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4) and C/EBP-homologous protein (CHOP). Moreover, NiPT could induce more lung cancer cells undergoing apoptosis if it synergistically uses autophagy inhibitors, suggesting that NiPT-induced autophagy protects cancer cell from death. Collectively, our findings demonstrate that autophagy inhibition enhances the anticancer effects of proteasomal DUB inhibitor and might be an effective treatment strategy for lung cancer.
    Keywords:  DUBs; LC3; NiPT; UPS; anticancer therapy; autophagy; metal-based compounds; p62
  18. PLoS One. 2020 ;15(4): e0226862
      SESN2 is a member of the evolutionarily conserved sestrin protein family found in most of the Metazoa species. The SESN2 gene is transcriptionally activated by many stress factors, including metabolic derangements, reactive oxygen species (ROS), and DNA-damage. As a result, SESN2 controls ROS accumulation, metabolism, and cell viability. The best-known function of SESN2 is the inhibition of the mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 kinase (mTORC1) that plays a central role in support of cell growth and suppression of autophagy. SESN2 inhibits mTORC1 activity through interaction with the GATOR2 protein complex preventing an inhibitory effect of GATOR2 on the GATOR1 protein complex. GATOR1 stimulates GTPase activity of the RagA/B small GTPase, the component of RagA/B:RagC/D complex, preventing mTORC1 translocation to the lysosomes and its activation by the small GTPase Rheb. Despite the well-established role of SESN2 in mTORC1 inhibition, other SESN2 activities are not well-characterized. We recently showed that SESN2 could control mitochondrial function and cell death via mTORC1-independent mechanisms, and these activities might be explained by direct effects of SESN2 on mitochondria. In this work, we examined mitochondrial localization of SESN2 and demonstrated that SESN2 is located on mitochondria and can be directly involved in the regulation of mitochondrial functions.
  19. Autophagy. 2020 Apr 14.
      1-phenyl 2-thiourea (PTU) is a Tyr (tyrosinase) inhibitor that is extensively used to block pigmentation and improve optical transparency in zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryo. Here, we reported a previously undescribed effect of PTU on macroautophagy/autophagy in zebrafish embryos. Upon 0.003% PTU treatment, aberrant autophagosome and autolysosome formation, accumulation of lysosomes, and elevated autophagic flux were observed in various tissues and organs of zebrafish embryos, such as skin, brain, and muscle. Similar to PTU treatment, autophagic activation and lysosomal accumulation were also observed in the somatic tyr mutant zebrafish embryos, which suggest that Tyr inhibition may contribute to PTU-induced autophagic activation. Furthermore, we demonstrated that autophagy contributes to pigmentation inhibition, but is not essential to the PTU-induced pigmentation inhibition. With the involvement of autophagy in a wide range of physiological and pathological processes and the routine use of PTU in zebrafish research of autophagy-related processes, these observations raise a novel concern in autophagy-related studies using PTU-treated zebrafish embryos.
    Keywords:  1-phenyl 2-thiourea; autophagy; melanogenesis; tyrosinase; zebrafish embryo
  20. Prog Retin Eye Res. 2020 Apr 13. pii: S1350-9462(20)30030-6. [Epub ahead of print] 100858
      Oxidative stress-induced damage to the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) is considered to be a key factor in age-related macular degeneration (AMD) pathology. RPE cells are constantly exposed to oxidative stress that may lead to the accumulation of damaged cellular proteins, lipids, nucleic acids, and cellular organelles, including mitochondria. The ubiquitin-proteasome and the lysosomal/autophagy pathways are the two major proteolytic systems to remove damaged proteins and organelles. There is increasing evidence that proteostasis is disturbed in RPE as evidenced by lysosomal lipofuscin and extracellular drusen accumulation in AMD. Nuclear factor-erythroid 2-related factor-2 (NFE2L2) and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator-1 alpha (PGC-1α) are master transcription factors in the regulation of antioxidant enzymes, clearance systems, and biogenesis of mitochondria. The precise cause of RPE degeneration and the onset and progression of AMD are not fully understood. However, mitochondria dysfunction, increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) damage are observed together with increased protein aggregation and inflammation in AMD. In contrast, functional mitochondria prevent RPE cells damage and suppress inflammation. Here, we will discuss the role of mitochondria in RPE degeneration and AMD pathology focused on mtDNA damage and repair, autophagy/mitophagy signaling, and regulation of inflammation. Mitochondria are putative therapeutic targets to prevent or treat AMD.
    Keywords:  Age-related macular degeneration; Aggregation; Aging; Autophagy; Clearance; Degeneration; Mitochondria; Mitophagy; Retina; Retinal pigment epithelium
  21. Rejuvenation Res. 2020 Apr 11.
      Intermittent fasting (IF) and its mimetic, rapamycin extend lifespan and healthspan through mechanisms that are not fully understood. We investigated different short-term durations of IF and rapamycin on cellular and molecular changes in the brains of young (6-10 months) and old (26-31 months) zebrafish. Interestingly, our results showed that IF significantly lowered glucose levels while increasing DCAMKL1 in both young and old animals. This proliferative effect of IF was supported by the upregulation of foxm1 transcript in old animals. Rapamycin did not change glucose levels in young and old animals but had differential effects depending on age. In young zebrafish, PCNA and the LC3-II/LC3-I ratio was decreased, whereas GFAP and gephyrin were decreased in old animals. The changes in proliferative markers and a marker of autophagic flux suggest an age-dependent interplay between autophagy and cell proliferation. Additionally, changes in glia and inhibitory tone suggest a suppressive effect on neuroinflammation but may push the brain towards a more excitable state. mTOR activity in the brain following the IF and rapamycin treatment was differentially regulated by age. Interestingly, rapamycin inhibited mTOR more potently in young animals than IF. PCA supported our conclusion that the regulatory effects of IF and rapamycin were age-specific, since we observed different patterns in the expression levels and clustering of young and old animals. Taken together, our results suggest that even a short-term duration of IF and rapamycin have significant effects in the brain at young and old ages, and that these are age- and treatment-dependent.
  22. FASEB J. 2020 Apr 15.
      Dynamin-Related-Protein 1 (DRP1) critically regulates mitochondrial and peroxisomal fission in multicellular organisms. However, the impact of DRP1 on other organelles, especially its direct influence on ER functions remains largely unclear. Here, we report that DRP1 translocates to endoplasmic reticulum (ER) in response to β-adrenergic stimulation. To further investigate the function of DRP1 on ER-lipid droplet (LD) dynamics and the metabolic subsequences, we generated an adipose tissue-specific DRP1 knockout model (Adipo-Drp1flx/flx ). We found that the LDs in adipose tissues of Adipo-Drp1flx/flx mice exhibited more unilocular morphology with larger sizes, and formed less multilocular structures upon cold exposure. Mechanistically, we discovered that abnormal LD morphology occurs because newly generated micro-LDs fail to dissociate from the ER due to DRP1 ablation. Conversely, the ER retention of LDs can be rescued by the overexpressed DRP1 in the adipocytes. The alteration of LD dynamics, combined with abnormal mitochondrial and autophagy functions in adipose tissue, ultimately lead to abnormalities in lipid metabolism in Adipo-Drp1flx/flx mice.
    Keywords:  ER retention; LD budding; LD morphology; energy expenditure; lipolysis
  23. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2020 ;1243 53-68
      Protein homeostasis (Proteostasis) is essential for correct and efficient protein function within the living cell. Among the critical components of the Proteostasis Network (PN) are molecular chaperones that serve widely in protein biogenesis under physiological conditions, and prevent protein misfolding and aggregation enhanced by conditions of cellular stress. For Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington's diseases and ALS, multiple classes of molecular chaperones interact with the highly aggregation-prone proteins amyloid-β, tau, α-synuclein, huntingtin and SOD1 to influence the course of proteotoxicity associated with these neurodegenerative diseases. Accordingly, overexpression of molecular chaperones and induction of the heat shock response have been shown to be protective in a wide range of animal models of these diseases. In contrast, for cancer cells the upregulation of chaperones has the undesirable effect of promoting cellular survival and tumor growth by stabilizing mutant oncoproteins. In both situations, physiological levels of molecular chaperones eventually become functionally compromised by the persistence of misfolded substrates, leading to a decline in global protein homeostasis and the dysregulation of diverse cellular pathways. The phenomenon of chaperone competition may underlie the broad pathology observed in aging and neurodegenerative diseases, and restoration of physiological protein homeostasis may be a suitable therapeutic avenue for neurodegeneration as well as for cancer.
    Keywords:  Molecular chaperones; Neurodegenerative diseases; Protein misfolding; Proteostasis
  24. Mol Neurodegener. 2020 Apr 16. 15(1): 27
      BACKGROUND: Studies link c-Abl activation with the accumulation of pathogenic α-synuclein (αS) and neurodegeneration in Parkinson's disease (PD). Currently, c-Abl, a tyrosine kinase activated by cellular stress, is thought to promote αS pathology by either directly phosphorylating αS or by causing autophagy deficits.METHODS: αS overexpressing transgenic (Tg) mice were used in this study. A53T Tg mice that express high levels of human mutant A53TαS under the control of prion protein promoter. Two different approaches were used in this study. Natural aging and seeding model of synucleinopathy. In seeding model, intracortical/intrastriatal (IC/IS) stereotaxic injection of toxic lysates was done using tissue lysates from end-stage symptomatic mice. In this study, nilotinib and pifithrin-α was used as a c-Abl and p53 inhibitor, respectively. Both Tg and non-transgenic (nTg) mice from each group were subjected to nilotinib (10 mg/kg) or vehicle (DMSO) treatment. Frozen brain tissues from PD and control human cases were analyzed. In vitro cells study was implied for c-Abl/p53 genetic manipulation to uncover signal transduction.
    RESULTS: Herein, we show that the pathologic effects of c-Abl in PD also involve activation of p53, as c-Abl activation in a transgenic mouse model of α-synucleinopathy (TgA53T) and human PD cases are associated with the increased p53 activation. Significantly, active p53 in TgA53T neurons accumulates in the cytosol, which may lead to inhibition of autophagy. Thus, we hypothesized that c-Abl-dependent p53 activation contributes to autophagy impairment in α-synucleinopathy. In support of the hypothesis, we show that c-Abl activation is sufficient to inhibit autophagy in p53-dependent manner. Moreover, inhibition of either c-Abl, using nilotinib, or p53, using pifithrin-α, was sufficient to increase autophagic flux in neuronal cells by inducing phosphorylation of AMP-activated kinase (AMPK), ULK1 activation, and down-regulation of mTORC1 signaling. Finally, we show that pharmacological attenuation of c-Abl activity by nilotinib treatment in the TgA53T mouse model reduces activation of p53, stimulates autophagy, decreases accumulation αS pathology, and delays disease onset.
    CONCLUSION: Collectively, our data show that c-Abl activation by α-synucleinopathy causes p53 dependent autophagy deficits and both c-Abl and p53 represent therapeutic target for PD.
    Keywords:  AMPK; Autophagy; C-Abl; Neurodegeneration; Nilotinib; Parkinson’s disease (PD); Pifithrin-α; mTOR; p53; α-Synuclein
  25. Cells. 2020 Apr 10. pii: E933. [Epub ahead of print]9(4):
      Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number one cause of death in the United States. Advancing age is a primary risk factor for developing CVD. Estimates indicate that 20% of the US population will be ≥65 years old by 2030. Direct expenditures for treating CVD in the older population combined with indirect costs, secondary to lost wages, are predicted to reach $1.1 trillion by 2035. Therefore, there is an eminent need to discover novel therapeutic targets and identify new interventions to delay, lessen the severity, or prevent cardiovascular complications associated with advanced age. Protein and organelle quality control pathways including autophagy/lysosomal and the ubiquitin-proteasome systems, are emerging contributors of age-associated myocardial dysfunction. In general, two findings have sparked this interest. First, strong evidence indicates that cardiac protein degradation pathways are altered in the heart with aging. Second, it is well accepted that damaged and misfolded protein aggregates and dysfunctional mitochondria accumulate in the heart with age. In this review, we will: (i) define the different protein and mitochondria quality control mechanisms in the heart; (ii) provide evidence that each quality control pathway becomes dysfunctional during cardiac aging; and (iii) discuss current advances in targeting these pathways to maintain cardiac function with age.
    Keywords:  aging; chaperone-mediated autophagy; heart; macroautophagy; mitophagy; protein quality control; ubiquitin proteasome system
  26. Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Apr 14. pii: E2718. [Epub ahead of print]21(8):
      A major challenge in medical research resides in controlling the molecular processes of tissue regeneration, as organ and structure damage are central to several human diseases. A survey of the literature reveals that mTOR (mechanistic/mammalian target of rapamycin) is involved in a wide range of regeneration mechanisms in the animal kingdom. More particularly, cellular processes such as growth, proliferation, and differentiation are controlled by mTOR. In addition, autophagy, stem cell maintenance or the newly described intermediate quiescence state, Galert, imply upstream monitoring by the mTOR pathway. In this review, we report the role of mTOR signaling in reparative regenerations in different tissues and body parts (e.g., axon, skeletal muscle, liver, epithelia, appendages, kidney, and whole-body), and highlight how the mTOR kinase can be viewed as a therapeutic target to boost organ repair. Studies in this area have focused on modulating the mTOR pathway in various animal models to elucidate its contribution to regeneration. The diversity of metazoan species used to identify the implication of this pathway might then serve applied medicine (in better understanding what is required for efficient treatments in human diseases) but also evolutionary biology. Indeed, species-specific differences in mTOR modulation can contain the keys to appreciate why certain regeneration processes have been lost or conserved in the animal kingdom.
    Keywords:  appendage; autophagy; axon; differentiation; epidermis; human diseases; kidney; liver; mTOR pathway; muscle; proliferation; regeneration; stem cell; whole-body
  27. Biochem Pharmacol. 2020 Apr 13. pii: S0006-2952(20)30203-3. [Epub ahead of print] 113975
      BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Rapamycin is a potent immunosuppressant and anti-proliferative agent used clinically to prevent organ transplant rejection and for coating coronary stents to counteract restenosis. Rapamycin complexes with the immunophilin FKBP12, which subsequently binds and inhibits mTORC1. Despite several reports demonstrating that rapamycin affects platelet-mediated responses, the underlying mechanism of how it alters platelet function is poorly characterised. This study aimed to elucidate the effect of rapamycin on platelet function and the underlying mechanism.EXPERIMENTAL: Approach The effect of rapamycin on platelet activation and signalling was investigated alongside the catalytic mTOR inhibitors KU0063794 and WYE-687, and the FKBP12-binding macrolide FK506. Key Results Rapamycin affects platelet procoagulant responses by reducing externalisation of the procoagulant phospholipid phosphatidylserine, formation of balloon-like structures and local generation of thrombin. Catalytic mTOR kinase inhibitors did not alter platelet procoagulant processes, despite having a similar effect as rapamycin on Ca2+ signalling, demonstrating that the effect of rapamycin on procoagulant responses is independent of mTORC1 inhibition and not linked to a reduction in Ca2+ signalling. FK506, which also forms a complex with FKBP12 but does not target mTOR, reduced platelet procoagulant responses to a similar extent as rapamycin. Both rapamycin and FK506 prevented the loss of mitochondria integrity induced by platelet activation, one of the central regulatory events leading to PS externalisation. Conclusions and Implications Rapamycin supresses platelet procoagulant responses by protecting mitochondrial integrity in a manner independent of mTORC1 inhibition. Rapamycin and other drugs targeting FKBP immunophilins could aid the development of novel complementary anti-platelet therapies.
  28. Aging Cell. 2020 Apr 15. e13140
      One of the key mechanisms underlying skeletal muscle functional deterioration during aging is disrupted mitochondrial dynamics. Regulation of mitochondrial dynamics is essential to maintain a healthy mitochondrial population and prevent the accumulation of damaged mitochondria; however, the regulatory mechanisms are poorly understood. We demonstrated loss of mitochondrial content and disrupted mitochondrial dynamics in muscle during aging concomitant with dysregulation of miR-181a target interactions. Using functional approaches and mito-QC assay, we have established that miR-181a is an endogenous regulator of mitochondrial dynamics through concerted regulation of Park2, p62/SQSTM1, and DJ-1 in vitro. Downregulation of miR-181a with age was associated with an accumulation of autophagy-related proteins and abnormal mitochondria. Restoring miR-181a levels in old mice prevented accumulation of p62, DJ-1, and PARK2, and improved mitochondrial quality and muscle function. These results provide physiological evidence for the potential of microRNA-based interventions for age-related muscle atrophy and of wider significance for diseases with disrupted mitochondrial dynamics.
    Keywords:  aging; miR-181a; mitophagy; p62; parkin; protein DJ-1; skeletal muscle
  29. Cell Rep. 2020 Apr 14. pii: S2211-1247(20)30394-6. [Epub ahead of print]31(2): 107504
      Cell growth is coupled to cell-cycle progression in mitotically proliferating mammalian cells, but the underlying molecular mechanisms are not well understood. CyclinD-Cdk4/6 is known to phosphorylate RB to promote S-phase entry, but recent work suggests they have additional functions. We show here that CyclinD-Cdk4/6 activates mTORC1 by binding and phosphorylating TSC2 on Ser1217 and Ser1452. Pharmacological inhibition of Cdk4/6 leads to a rapid, TSC2-dependent reduction of mTORC1 activity in multiple human and mouse cell lines, including breast cancer cells. By simultaneously driving mTORC1 and E2F, CyclinD-Cdk4/6 couples cell growth to cell-cycle progression. Consistent with this, we see that mTORC1 activity is cell cycle dependent in proliferating neural stem cells of the adult rodent brain. We find that Cdk4/6 inhibition reduces cell proliferation partly via TSC2 and mTORC1. This is of clinical relevance, because Cdk4/6 inhibitors are used for breast cancer therapy.
    Keywords:  Cdk4; Cdk6; CycD; TSC2; abemaciclib; cell cycle; cell growth; mTORC1; palbociclib; ribociclib
  30. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2020 ;8 208
      Short linear motifs (SLiMs) located in disordered regions of multidomain proteins are important for the organization of protein-protein interaction networks. By dynamic association with their binding partners, SLiMs enable assembly of multiprotein complexes, pivotal for the regulation of various aspects of cell biology in higher organisms. Despite their importance, there is a paucity of molecular tools to study SLiMs of endogenous proteins in live cells. LC3 interacting regions (LIRs), being quintessential for orchestrating diverse stages of autophagy, are a prominent example of SLiMs and mediate binding to the ubiquitin-like LC3/GABARAP family of proteins. The role of LIRs ranges from the posttranslational processing of their binding partners at early stages of autophagy to the binding of selective autophagy receptors (SARs) to the autophagosome. In order to generate tools to study LIRs in cells, we engineered high affinity binders of LIR motifs of three archetypical SARs: OPTN, p62, and NDP52. In an array of in vitro and cellular assays, the engineered binders were shown to have greatly improved affinity and specificity when compared with the endogenous LC3/GABARAP family of proteins, thus providing a unique possibility for modulating LIR interactions in living systems. We exploited these novel tools to study the impact of LIR inhibition on the fitness and the responsiveness to cytarabine treatment of THP-1 cells - a model for studying acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Our results demonstrate that inhibition of LIR of a single autophagy receptor is insufficient to sensitize the cells to cytarabine, while simultaneous inhibition of three LIR motifs in three distinct SARs reduces the IC50 of the chemotherapeutic.
    Keywords:  AML – acute myeloid leukemia; LIR interaction; cytarabine; inhibitors; phage display; selective autophagy receptor; short linear motifs (SLiMs)
  31. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2020 Apr 17. pii: 201917948. [Epub ahead of print]
      Deregulation of mitochondrial dynamics leads to the accumulation of oxidative stress and unhealthy mitochondria; consequently, this accumulation contributes to premature aging and alterations in mitochondria linked to metabolic complications. We postulate that restrained mitochondrial ATP synthesis might alleviate age-associated disorders and extend healthspan in mammals. Herein, we prepared a previously discovered mitochondrial complex IV moderate inhibitor in drinking water and orally administered to standard-diet-fed, wild-type C57BL/6J mice every day for up to 16 mo. No manifestation of any apparent toxicity or deleterious effect on studied mouse models was observed. The impacts of an added inhibitor on a variety of mitochondrial functions were analyzed, such as respiratory activity, mitochondrial bioenergetics, and biogenesis, and a few age-associated comorbidities, including reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, glucose abnormalities, and obesity in mice. It was found that mitochondrial quality, dynamics, and oxidative metabolism were greatly improved, resulting in lean mice with a specific reduction in visceral fat plus superb energy and glucose homeostasis during their aging period compared to the control group. These results strongly suggest that a mild interference in ATP synthesis through moderation of mitochondrial activity could effectively up-regulate mitogenesis, reduce ROS production, and preserve mitochondrial integrity, thereby impeding the onset of metabolic syndrome. We conclude that this inhibitory intervention in mitochondrial respiration rectified the age-related physiological breakdown in mice by protecting mitochondrial function and markedly mitigated certain undesired primary outcomes of metabolic syndrome, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. This intervention warrants further research on the treatment of metabolic syndrome of aging in humans.
    Keywords:  aging; cytochrome c oxidase; metabolic syndrome; mitochondria; mitogenesis