bims-auttor Biomed News
on Autophagy and mTOR
Issue of 2020‒07‒05
39 papers selected by
Viktor Korolchuk, Newcastle University

  1. Nature. 2020 Jul 01.
      The mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) is a key metabolic hub that controls the cellular response to environmental cues by exerting its kinase activity on multiple substrates1-3. However, whether mTORC1 responds to diverse stimuli by differentially phosphorylating specific substrates is poorly understood. Here we show that transcription factor EB (TFEB), a master regulator of lysosomal biogenesis and autophagy4,5, is phosphorylated by mTORC1 via a substrate-specific mechanism that is mediated by Rag GTPases. Owing to this mechanism, the phosphorylation of TFEB-unlike other substrates of mTORC1, such as S6K and 4E-BP1- is strictly dependent on the amino-acid-mediated activation of RagC and RagD GTPases, but is insensitive to RHEB activity induced by growth factors. This mechanism has a crucial role in Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome, a disorder that is caused by mutations in the RagC and RagD activator folliculin (FLCN) and is characterized by benign skin tumours, lung and kidney cysts and renal cell carcinoma6,7. We found that constitutive activation of TFEB is the main driver of the kidney abnormalities and mTORC1 hyperactivity in a mouse model of Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome. Accordingly, depletion of TFEB in kidneys of these mice fully rescued the disease phenotype and associated lethality, and normalized mTORC1 activity. Our findings identify a mechanism that enables differential phosphorylation of mTORC1 substrates, the dysregulation of which leads to kidney cysts and cancer.
  2. Nat Commun. 2020 Jul 03. 11(1): 3306
      The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is selectively degraded by autophagy (ER-phagy) through proteins called ER-phagy receptors. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Atg40 acts as an ER-phagy receptor to sequester ER fragments into autophagosomes by binding Atg8 on forming autophagosomal membranes. During ER-phagy, parts of the ER are morphologically rearranged, fragmented, and loaded into autophagosomes, but the mechanism remains poorly understood. Here we find that Atg40 molecules assemble in the ER membrane concurrently with autophagosome formation via multivalent interaction with Atg8. Atg8-mediated super-assembly of Atg40 generates highly-curved ER regions, depending on its reticulon-like domain, and supports packing of these regions into autophagosomes. Moreover, tight binding of Atg40 to Atg8 is achieved by a short helix C-terminal to the Atg8-family interacting motif, and this feature is also observed for mammalian ER-phagy receptors. Thus, this study significantly advances our understanding of the mechanisms of ER-phagy and also provides insights into organelle fragmentation in selective autophagy of other organelles.
  3. Genes (Basel). 2020 Jun 26. pii: E711. [Epub ahead of print]11(6):
      In quiescent cells, primary cilia function as a mechanosensor that converts mechanic signals into chemical activities. This unique organelle plays a critical role in restricting mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) signaling, which is essential for quiescent cells to maintain their quiescence. Multiple mechanisms have been identified that mediate the inhibitory effect of primary cilia on mTORC1 signaling. These mechanisms depend on several tumor suppressor proteins localized within the ciliary compartment, including liver kinase B1 (LKB1), AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), polycystin-1, and polycystin-2. Conversely, changes in mTORC1 activity are able to affect ciliogenesis and stability indirectly through autophagy. In this review, we summarize recent advances in our understanding of the reciprocal regulation of mTORC1 and primary cilia.
    Keywords:  AMPK; LKB1; Tsc2; autophagy; ciliogenesis; mTOR; mTORC1; polycystin-1; primary cilia
  4. Autophagy. 2020 Jun 28.
      Lysosomal damage activates AMPK, a regulator of macroautophagy/autophagy and metabolism, and elicits a strong ubiquitination response. Here we show that the cytosolic lectin LGALS9 detects lysosomal membrane breach by binding to lumenal glycoepitopes, and directs both the ubiquitination response and AMPK activation. Proteomic analyses have revealed increased LGALS9 association with lysosomes, and concomitant changes in LGALS9 interactions with its newly identified partners that control ubiquitination-deubiquitination processes. An LGALS9-inetractor, deubiquitinase USP9X, dissociates from damaged lysosomes upon recognition of lumenal glycans by LGALS9. USP9X's departure from lysosomes promotes K63 ubiquitination and stimulation of MAP3K7/TAK1, an upstream kinase and activator of AMPK hitherto orphaned for a precise physiological function. Ubiquitin-activated MAP3K7/TAK1 controls AMPK specifically during lysosomal injury, caused by a spectrum of membrane-damaging or -permeabilizing agents, including silica crystals, the intracellular pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis, TNFSF10/TRAIL signaling, and the anti-diabetes drugs metformin. The LGALS9-ubiquitin system activating AMPK represents a novel signal transduction system contributing to various physiological outputs that are under the control of AMPK, including autophagy, MTOR, lysosomal maintenance and biogenesis, immunity, defense against microbes, and metabolic reprograming.
    Keywords:   Mycobacterium tuberculosis ; AMPK; TAK1; TRAIL; USP9X; autophagy; diabetes; lysosome; metabolism; metformin
  5. Prog Mol Biol Transl Sci. 2020 ;pii: S1877-1173(20)30044-2. [Epub ahead of print]172 157-202
      Motor neuron diseases (MNDs) are a wide group of neurodegenerative disorders characterized by the degeneration of a specific neuronal type located in the central nervous system, the motor neuron (MN). There are two main types of MNs, spinal and cortical MNs and depending on the type of MND, one or both types are affected. Cortical MNs innervate spinal MNs and these control a variety of cellular targets, being skeletal muscle their main one which is also affected in MNDs. A correct functionality of autophagy is necessary for the survival of all cellular types and it is particularly crucial for neurons, given their postmitotic and highly specialized nature. Numerous studies have identified alterations of autophagy activity in multiple MNDs. The scientific community has been particularly prolific in reporting the role that autophagy plays in the most common adult MND, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, although many studies have started to identify physiological and pathological functions of this catabolic system in other MNDs, such as spinal muscular atrophy and spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy. The degradation of selective cargo by autophagy and how this process is altered upon the presence of MND-causing mutations is currently also a matter of intense investigation, particularly regarding the selective autophagic clearance of mitochondria. Thorough reviews on this field have been recently published. This chapter will cover the current knowledge on the functionality of autophagy and lysosomal homeostasis in the main MNDs and other autophagy-related topics in the MND field that have risen special interest in the research community.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Lysosome; Motor neuron; Motor neuron diseases; Proteostasis
  6. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2020 ;8 466
      Autophagy is a major degradation process of cytoplasmic components in eukaryotes, and executes both bulk and selective degradation of targeted cargos. A set of autophagy-related (ATG) proteins participate in various stages of the autophagic process. Among ATGs, ubiquitin-like protein ATG8 plays a central role in autophagy. The ATG8 protein is conjugated to the membrane lipid phosphatidylethanolamine in a ubiquitin-like conjugation reaction that is essential for autophagosome formation. In addition, ATG8 interacts with various adaptor/receptor proteins to recruit specific cargos for degradation by selective autophagy. The ATG8-interacting proteins usually contain the ATG8-interacting motif (AIM) or the ubiquitin-interacting motif (UIM) for ATG8 binding. Unlike a single ATG8 gene in yeast, multiple ATG8 orthologs have been identified in the plant kingdom. The large diversity within the ATG8 family may explain the various functions of selective autophagy in plants. Here, we discuss and summarize the current view of the structure and function of ATG8 proteins in plants.
    Keywords:  AIM; ATG8; UIM; autophagy; cargo receptors; selective autophagy
  7. J Cell Biol. 2020 Aug 03. pii: e202004062. [Epub ahead of print]219(8):
      Liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) compartmentalizes and concentrates biomacromolecules into distinct condensates. Liquid-like condensates can transition into gel and solid states, which are essential for fulfilling their different functions. LLPS plays important roles in multiple steps of autophagy, mediating the assembly of autophagosome formation sites, acting as an unconventional modulator of TORC1-mediated autophagy regulation, and triaging protein cargos for degradation. Gel-like, but not solid, protein condensates can trigger formation of surrounding autophagosomal membranes. Stress and pathological conditions cause aberrant phase separation and transition of condensates, which can evade surveillance by the autophagy machinery. Understanding the mechanisms underlying phase separation and transition will provide potential therapeutic targets for protein aggregation diseases.
  8. Prog Mol Biol Transl Sci. 2020 ;pii: S1877-1173(20)30020-X. [Epub ahead of print]172 15-35
      Autophagy is a crucial cellular degradation and recycling pathway. During autophagy double-membrane vesicles, called autophagosomes, encapsulate cellular components and deliver their cargo to the lytic compartment for degradation. Formation of autophagosomes is regulated by the Atg1 kinase complex in yeast and the homologous ULK1 kinase complex in mammals. While research on Atg1 and ULK1 has advanced our understanding of how these protein kinases function in autophagy, the other Atg1/ULK1 kinase complex members have received much less attention. Here, we focus on the functions of the Atg1 kinase complex members Atg11 and Atg17 as well as the ULK1 kinase complex member FIP200 in autophagy. These three proteins act as scaffolds in their respective complexes. Recent studies have made it evident that they have similar but also distinct functions. In this article, we review our current understanding of how these scaffold proteins function from autophagosome formation to fusion and also discuss their possible roles in diseases.
    Keywords:  Atg11; Atg17; Autophagosome; Autophagy; FIP200; PAS
  9. Nature. 2020 Jul 01.
      Mammalian cells reorganize their proteomes in response to nutrient stress through translational suppression and degradative mechanisms using the proteasome and autophagy systems1,2. Ribosomes are central targets of this response, as they are responsible for translation and subject to lysosomal turnover during nutrient stress3-5. The abundance of ribosomal (r)-proteins (around 6% of the proteome; 107 copies per cell)6,7 and their high arginine and lysine content has led to the hypothesis that they are selectively used as a source of basic amino acids during nutrient stress through autophagy4,7. However, the relative contributions of translational and degradative mechanisms to the control of r-protein abundance during acute stress responses is poorly understood, as is the extent to which r-proteins are used to generate amino acids when specific building blocks are limited7. Here, we integrate quantitative global translatome and degradome proteomics8 with genetically encoded Ribo-Keima5 and Ribo-Halo reporters to interrogate r-protein homeostasis with and without active autophagy. In conditions of acute nutrient stress, cells strongly suppress the translation of r-proteins, but, notably, r-protein degradation occurs largely through non-autophagic pathways. Simultaneously, the decrease in r-protein abundance is compensated for by a reduced dilution of pre-existing ribosomes and a reduction in cell volume, thereby maintaining the density of ribosomes within single cells. Withdrawal of basic or hydrophobic amino acids induces translational repression without differential induction of ribophagy, indicating that ribophagy is not used to selectively produce basic amino acids during acute nutrient stress. We present a quantitative framework that describes the contributions of biosynthetic and degradative mechanisms to r-protein abundance and proteome remodelling in conditions of nutrient stress.
  10. Autophagy. 2020 Jun 28. 1-2
      Mammalian cells, including neurons, use macroautophagy (here 'autophagy') to degrade damaged proteins and organelles, and recycle nutrients in response to starvation and other forms of cell stress. The basic cellular machinery responsible for autophagy is highly conserved from yeast to mammals. However, evidence for specific adaptations to more complex organisms and in highly differentiated cells (e. g. neurons) remains limited. RILP (Rab interacting lysosomal protein) mediates retrograde transport of late endosomes (LEs) in nonneuronal mammalian cells. We have now found that RILP plays additional important, fundamental roles in neuronal autophagosome (AP) transport, and, more surprisingly, in AP biogenesis, and cargo turnover as well. RILP accomplishes these tasks via sequential interactions with key autophagosomal components - ATG5 and LC3 - as well as the microtubule motor protein cytoplasmic dynein (Figure 1A). We found further that RILP expression and behavior are controlled by MTOR kinase, linking RILP to a potentially wide range of physiological and pathophysiological functions.
    Keywords:  Autophagosome biogenesis; MTOR regulation; RILP; dynein; neuronal autophagy; retrograde transport; sequestosome 1/p62
  11. Sci Rep. 2020 Jul 02. 10(1): 10940
      Macroautophagy, the degradation of cytoplasmic content by lysosomal fusion, is an evolutionary conserved process promoting homeostasis and intracellular defence. Macroautophagy is initiated primarily by a complex containing ULK1 or ULK2 (two paralogs of the yeast Atg1 protein). To understand the differences between ULK1 and ULK2, we compared the human ULK1 and ULK2 proteins and their regulation. Despite the similarity in their enzymatic domain, we found that ULK1 and ULK2 have major differences in their autophagy-related interactors and their post-translational and transcriptional regulators. We identified 18 ULK1-specific and 7 ULK2-specific protein motifs serving as different interaction interfaces. We found that interactors of ULK1 and ULK2 all have different tissue-specific expressions partially contributing to diverse and ULK-specific interaction networks in various tissues. We identified three ULK1-specific and one ULK2-specific transcription factor binding sites, and eight sites shared by the regulatory region of both genes. Importantly, we found that both their post-translational and transcriptional regulators are involved in distinct biological processes-suggesting separate functions for ULK1 and ULK2. Unravelling differences between ULK1 and ULK2 could lead to a better understanding of how ULK-type specific dysregulation affects autophagy and other cellular processes that have been implicated in diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease and cancer.
  12. J Neurosci. 2020 Jun 30. pii: JN-RM-2809-19. [Epub ahead of print]
      The G2019S mutation in leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) is a common cause of Parkinson's disease (PD) and results in age-related dopamine neuron loss and locomotor dysfunction in Drosophila melanogaster through an aberrant increase in bulk neuronal protein synthesis. Under non-pathologic conditions, protein synthesis is tightly controlled by metabolic regulation. Whether nutritional and metabolic influences on protein synthesis can modulate the pathogenic effect of LRRK2 on protein synthesis and thereby impact neuronal loss is a key unresolved question. Here, we show that LRRK2 G2019S-induced neurodegeneration is critically dependent on dietary amino acid content in studies using both sexes. Low dietary amino acid concentration prevents aberrant protein synthesis and blocks LRRK2 G2019S-mediated neurodegeneration in Drosophila and rat primary neurons. Unexpectedly, a moderately high amino acid diet also blocks dopamine neuron loss and motor deficits in Drosophila through a separate mechanism involving stress-responsive activation of 5'-AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and neuroprotective induction of autophagy, implicating the importance of protein homeostasis to neuronal viability. At the highest amino acid diet of the range tested, PD-related neurodegeneration occurs in an age-related manner, but is also observed in control strains, suggesting that it is independent of mutant LRRK2 expression. We propose that dietary influences on protein synthesis and autophagy are critical determinants of LRRK2 neurodegeneration, opening up possibilities for future therapeutic intervention.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENTParkinson's disease (PD) prevalence is projected to rise as populations continue to age, yet there are no current therapeutic approaches that delay or stop disease progression. A broad role for leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) mutations in familial and idiopathic PD has emerged. Here, we show that dietary amino acids are important determinants of neurodegeneration in a Drosophila model of LRRK2 PD. Restricting all amino acids effectively suppresses dopaminergic neuron loss and locomotor deficits and is associated with reduced protein synthesis, while moderately high amino acids similarly attenuate these PD-related phenotypes through a stress-responsive induction of 5'-AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and autophagy. These studies suggest that diet plays an important role in the development of PD-related phenotypes linked to LRRK2.
  13. Cell Res. 2020 Jul 01.
      Autophagy is a conserved process that delivers cytosolic substances to the lysosome for degradation, but its direct role in the regulation of antiviral innate immunity remains poorly understood. Here, through high-throughput screening, we discovered that CCDC50 functions as a previously unknown autophagy receptor that negatively regulates the type I interferon (IFN) signaling pathway initiated by RIG-I-like receptors (RLRs), the sensors for RNA viruses. The expression of CCDC50 is enhanced by viral infection, and CCDC50 specifically recognizes K63-polyubiquitinated RLRs, thus delivering the activated RIG-I/MDA5 for autophagic degradation. The association of CCDC50 with phagophore membrane protein LC3 is confirmed by crystal structure analysis. In contrast to other known autophagic cargo receptors that associate with either the LIR-docking site (LDS) or the UIM-docking site (UDS) of LC3, CCDC50 can bind to both LDS and UDS, representing a new type of cargo receptor. In mouse models with RNA virus infection, CCDC50 deficiency reduces the autophagic degradation of RIG-I/MDA5 and promotes type I IFN responses, resulting in enhanced viral resistance and improved survival rates. These results reveal a new link between autophagy and antiviral innate immune responses and provide additional insights into the regulatory mechanisms of RLR-mediated antiviral signaling.
  14. Autophagy. 2020 Jul 03. 1-3
      The PIK3C3/VPS34-containing phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PtdIns3K) initiation complex (complex I) is necessary for macroautophagy/autophagy initiation and is comprised of PIK3R4/VPS15-PIK3C3/VPS34-BECN1-ATG14, while the endosomal trafficking complex (complex II) is necessary for vesicle trafficking and is comprised of PIK3R4/VPS15-PIK3C3/VPS34-BECN1-UVRAG. This composition difference was exploited to identify novel and specific autophagy inhibitors that disrupted the BECN1-ATG14 protein-protein interaction, without affecting vesicle trafficking. A cellular NanoBRET assay was implemented to identify these inhibitors, and one compound was able to successfully disrupt the BECN1-ATG14 interaction and inhibit autophagy, with limited impact on vesicle trafficking. These results reveal the first protein-protein interaction inhibitor targeting the autophagy initiation machinery and demonstrate the viability of targeting protein-protein interactions for the discovery of autophagy-specific modulators.
    Keywords:  ATG14; BECN1; PIK3C3; autophagy; inhibitor; protein-protein interaction
  15. Cell Rep. 2020 Jun 30. pii: S2211-1247(20)30821-4. [Epub ahead of print]31(13): 107840
      Stresses associated with disease may pathologically remodel the proteome by both increasing interaction strength and altering interaction partners, resulting in proteome-wide connectivity dysfunctions. Chaperones play an important role in these alterations, but how these changes are executed remains largely unknown. Our study unveils a specific N-glycosylation pattern used by a chaperone, Glucose-regulated protein 94 (GRP94), to alter its conformational fitness and stabilize a state most permissive for stable interactions with proteins at the plasma membrane. This "protein assembly mutation' remodels protein networks and properties of the cell. We show in cells, human specimens, and mouse xenografts that proteome connectivity is restorable by inhibition of the N-glycosylated GRP94 variant. In summary, we provide biochemical evidence for stressor-induced chaperone-mediated protein mis-assemblies and demonstrate how these alterations are actionable in disease.
    Keywords:  GRP94; aberrant N-glycosylation; aberrant protein-protein interaction; cellular stress; chaperome-mediated protein connectivity dysfunction; epichaperome; protein mis-assembly; stable protein assembly; stress-mediated molecular dysfunction; targeted protein degradation-based therapeutics
  16. Prog Mol Biol Transl Sci. 2020 ;pii: S1877-1173(20)30015-6. [Epub ahead of print]172 203-237
      Autophagy, originally described as a conserved bulk degradation pathway important to maintain cellular homeostasis during starvation, has also been implicated in playing a central role in multiple physiological processes. For example, autophagy is part of our innate immunity by targeting intracellular pathogens to lysosomes for degradation in a process called xenophagy. Coevolution and adaptation between viruses and autophagy have armed viruses with a multitude of strategies to counteract the antiviral functions of the autophagy pathway. In addition, some viruses have acquired mechanisms to exploit specific functions of either autophagy or the key components of this process, the autophagy-related (ATG) proteins, to promote viral replication and pathogenesis. In this chapter, we describe several examples where the strategy employed by a virus to subvert autophagy has been described with molecular detail. Their stratagems positively or negatively target practically all the steps of autophagy, including the signaling pathways regulating this process. This highlights the intricate relationship between autophagy and viruses and how by commandeering autophagy, viruses have devised ways to fine-tune their replication.
    Keywords:  ATG protein; Antiviral immunity; Autophagy; Autophagy receptor; Hijacking; Subvert; Viral replication; Virophagy; Viruses
  17. Nat Cell Biol. 2020 Jun 29.
      Lysosomes serve as cellular degradation and signalling centres that coordinate metabolism in response to intracellular cues and extracellular signals. Lysosomal capacity is adapted to cellular needs by transcription factors, such as TFEB and TFE3, which activate the expression of lysosomal and autophagy genes. Nuclear translocation and activation of TFEB are induced by a variety of conditions such as starvation, lysosome stress and lysosomal storage disorders. How these various cues are integrated remains incompletely understood. Here, we describe a pathway initiated at the plasma membrane that controls lysosome biogenesis via the endocytic regulation of intracellular ion homeostasis. This pathway is based on the exo-endocytosis of NHE7, a Na+/H+ exchanger mutated in X-linked intellectual disability, and serves to control intracellular ion homeostasis and thereby Ca2+/calcineurin-mediated activation of TFEB and downstream lysosome biogenesis in response to osmotic stress to promote the turnover of toxic proteins and cell survival.
  18. Dev Cell. 2020 Jun 30. pii: S1534-5807(20)30460-3. [Epub ahead of print]
      The lysosome is an essential catabolic organelle that consumes cellular biomass to regenerate basic building blocks that can fuel anabolic reactions. This simple view has evolved more recently to integrate novel functions of the lysosome as a key signaling center, which can steer the metabolic trajectory of cells in response to changes in nutrients, growth factors, and stress. Master protein kinases and transcription factors mediate the growth-promoting and catabolic activities of the lysosome and undergo a complex interplay that enables cellular adaptation to ever-changing metabolic conditions. Understanding how this coordination occurs will shed light on the fundamental logic of how the lysosome functions to control growth in the context of development, tissue homeostasis, and cancer.
    Keywords:  TFEB; anabolism; autophagy; catabolism; lysosome; mTORC1; nutrient sensing
  19. Cell Rep. 2020 Jun 30. pii: S2211-1247(20)30818-4. [Epub ahead of print]31(13): 107837
      Autophagy is a catabolic process involving capture of cytoplasmic materials into double-membraned autophagosomes that subsequently fuse with lysosomes for degradation of the materials by lysosomal hydrolases. One of the least understood components of the autophagy machinery is the transmembrane protein ATG9. Here, we report a cryoelectron microscopy structure of the human ATG9A isoform at 2.9-Å resolution. The structure reveals a fold with a homotrimeric domain-swapped architecture, multiple membrane spans, and a network of branched cavities, consistent with ATG9A being a membrane transporter. Mutational analyses support a role for the cavities in the function of ATG9A. In addition, structure-guided molecular simulations predict that ATG9A causes membrane bending, explaining the localization of this protein to small vesicles and highly curved edges of growing autophagosomes.
    Keywords:  ATG9A; autophagosome; autophagy; cryo-EM; membrane curvature; membrane morphology; membrane protein structure; membrane transport; molecular dynamics; transmembrane protein
  20. Prog Mol Biol Transl Sci. 2020 ;pii: S1877-1173(20)30045-4. [Epub ahead of print]172 293-323
      Autophagy is a highly conserved lysosomal degradation pathway responsible for rapid elimination of unwanted cytoplasmic materials in response to stressful conditions. This cytoprotective function is essential for maintenance of cellular homeostasis and is mediated by conserved autophagy-related genes (ATG) and autophagic receptors. Impairment of autophagy frequently results in a wide variety of human pathologies. Recent studies have revealed direct links between diverse diseases and genetic defects of core autophagy genes, autophagy-associated genes, and genes encoding autophagic receptors. Here we provide a general description of autophagy-related genes and their mutations or polymorphisms that play a causative role in specific human disorders or may be risk factors for them.
    Keywords:  Autophagic mutations; Autophagy; Disease; Inflammation; Neurodegeneration; Selective autophagy
  21. Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Jun 27. pii: E4570. [Epub ahead of print]21(13):
      In glioblastoma (GBM) cells, an impairment of mitochondrial activity along with autophagy suppression occurs. Autophagy suppression in GBM promotes stemness, invasion, and poor prognosis. The autophagy deficit seems to be due, at least in part, to an abnormal up-regulation of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), which may be counteracted by pharmacological mTORC1 inhibition. Since autophagy activation is tightly bound to increased mitochondriogenesis, a defect in the synthesis of novel mitochondria is expected to occur in GBM cells. In an effort to measure a baseline deficit in mitochondria and promote mitochondriogenesis, the present study used two different GBM cell lines, both featuring mTOR hyperactivity. mTORC1 inhibition increases the expression of genes and proteins related to autophagy, mitophagy, and mitochondriogenesis. Autophagy activation was counted by RT-PCR of autophagy genes, LC3- immune-fluorescent puncta and immune-gold, as well as specific mitophagy-dependent BNIP3 stoichiometric increase in situ, within mitochondria. The activation of autophagy-related molecules and organelles after rapamycin exposure occurs concomitantly with progression of autophagosomes towards lysosomes. Remarkably, mitochondrial biogenesis and plasticity (increased mitochondrial number, integrity, and density as well as decreased mitochondrial area) was long- lasting for weeks following rapamycin withdrawal.
    Keywords:  NRF2; PGC1; autophagy; lysosomes; mitochondrial DNA; mitochondrial biogenesis; mitochondrial constitutive genes; mitophagy; rapamycin
  22. Sci Rep. 2020 Jul 01. 10(1): 10798
      Celiac disease (CD) is an enteropathy triggered by the ingestion of gluten proteins in genetically predisposed individuals and characterized by excessive activation of effector immune cells and enhanced production of inflammatory cytokines. However, factors/mechanisms that amplify the ongoing mucosal inflammation in CD are not fully understood. In this study, we assessed whether mammalian target of Rapamycin (mTOR), a pathway that combines intra- and extra-cellular signals and acts as a central regulator for the metabolism, growth, and function of immune and non-immune cells, sustains CD-associated immune response. Our findings indicate that expression of phosphorylated (p)/active form of mTOR is increased in protein lysates of duodenal biopsy samples taken from patients with active CD (ACD) as compared to normal controls. In ACD, activation of mTOR occurs mainly in the epithelial compartment and associates with enhanced expression of p-4EBP, a downstream target of mTOR complex (mTORC)1, while expression of p-Rictor, a component of mTORC2, is not increased. Stimulation of mucosal explants of inactive CD patients with pepsin-trypsin-digested (PT)-gliadin or IFN-γ/IL-21, two cytokines produced in CD by gluten-specific T cells, increases p-4EBP expression. Consistently, blockade of such cytokines in cultures of ACD mucosal explants reduces p-4EBP. Finally, we show that inhibition of mTORC1 with rapamycin in ACD mucosal explants reduces p-4EBP and production of IL-15, a master cytokine produced by epithelial cells in this disorder. Our data suggest that ACD inflammation is marked by activation of mTORC1 in the epithelial compartment.
  23. Prog Mol Biol Transl Sci. 2020 ;pii: S1877-1173(20)30066-1. [Epub ahead of print]172 87-106
      Autophagy is a cellular housekeeping and quality control mechanism that is essential for homeostasis and survival. By virtue of this role, any perturbations to the flow of this process in cardiac or vascular cells can elicit harmful effects on the cardiovascular system, and subsequently affect whole organismal health. In this chapter, we summarize the preclinical evidence supporting the role of autophagy in sustaining cardiovascular health during homeostasis and disease. Furthermore, we discuss how autophagy activation by dietary, genetic and pharmaceutical interventions can be exploited to counteract common cardiovascular disorders, including atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, diabetic cardiomyopathy, arrhythmia, chemotherapy-induced cardiotoxicity and heart failure.
    Keywords:  Aging; Autophagy; Caloric restriction; Cardiovascular disease; HFpEF; HFrEF; Ischemia; Mimetics; Mitophagy; Reperfusion
  24. Prog Mol Biol Transl Sci. 2020 ;pii: S1877-1173(20)30014-4. [Epub ahead of print]172 1-14
      Nuclear recycling is essential for cell and organismal homeostasis. Nuclear architecture perturbations, such as nuclear loss or nuclear enlargement, have been observed in several pathological conditions. Apart from proteasomal components which reside in the nucleus, specific autophagic proteins also shuttle between the nucleus and the cytoplasm. Until recently, only the microautophagic degradation of nuclear components had been described. Recent studies, dissecting nuclear material recycling in organisms ranging from yeast to mammals, provide insight relevant to other forms of nucleophagy and the mediators involved. Nucleophagy has also been implicated in pathology. Lamins are degraded in cancer through direct interaction with LC3 in the nucleus. Similarly, in neurodegeneration, Golgi-associated nucleophagy is exacerbated. The physiological role of nucleophagy and its contribution to other pathologies remain to be elucidated. Here we discus recent findings that shed light into the molecular mechanisms and pathways that mediate the autophagic recycling of nuclear material.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Cancer; Microautophagy; Neurodegeneration; Nucleophagy; Nucleus; Yeast
  25. Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Jun 24. pii: E4506. [Epub ahead of print]21(12):
      Nucleophagy, the selective subtype of autophagy that targets nuclear material for autophagic degradation, was not only shown to be a model system for the study of selective macroautophagy, but also for elucidating the role of the core autophagic machinery within microautophagy. Nucleophagy also emerged as a system associated with a variety of disease conditions including cancer, neurodegeneration and ageing. Nucleophagic processes are part of natural cell development, but also act as a response to various stress conditions. Upon releasing small portions of nuclear material, micronuclei, the autophagic machinery transfers these micronuclei to the vacuole for subsequent degradation. Despite sharing many cargos and requiring the core autophagic machinery, recent investigations revealed the aspects that set macro- and micronucleophagy apart. Central to the discrepancies found between macro- and micronucleophagy is the nucleus vacuole junction, a large membrane contact site formed between nucleus and vacuole. Exclusion of nuclear pore complexes from the junction and its exclusive degradation by micronucleophagy reveal compositional differences in cargo. Regarding their shared reliance on the core autophagic machinery, micronucleophagy does not involve normal autophagosome biogenesis observed for macronucleophagy, but instead maintains a unique role in overall microautophagy, with the autophagic machinery accumulating at the neck of budding vesicles.
    Keywords:  Atg39; ER-phagy; endosomal sorting complexes required for transport (ESCRT); microautophagy; nuclear pore complexes; nucleophagy; nucleus vacuole junction; piecemeal microautophagy of the nucleus (PMN)
  26. Cells. 2020 Jun 27. pii: E1567. [Epub ahead of print]9(7):
      Cells adjust to nutrient fluctuations to restore metabolic homeostasis. The mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) complex 2 responds to nutrient levels and growth signals to phosphorylate protein kinases belonging to the AGC (Protein Kinases A,G,C) family such as Akt and PKC. Phosphorylation of these AGC kinases at their conserved hydrophobic motif (HM) site by mTORC2 enhances their activation and mediates the functions of mTORC2 in cell growth and metabolism. Another AGC kinase family member that is known to undergo increased phosphorylation at the homologous HM site (Ser380) is the p90 ribosomal S6 kinase (RSK). Phosphorylation at Ser380 is facilitated by the activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal regulated kinase (MAPK/ERK) in response to growth factor stimulation. Here, we demonstrate that optimal phosphorylation of RSK at this site requires an intact mTORC2. We also found that RSK is robustly phosphorylated at Ser380 upon nutrient withdrawal or inhibition of glycolysis, conditions that increase mTORC2 activation. However, pharmacological inhibition of mTOR did not abolish RSK phosphorylation at Ser380, indicating that mTOR catalytic activity is not required for this phosphorylation. Since RSK and SIN1β colocalize at the membrane during serum restimulation and acute glutamine withdrawal, mTORC2 could act as a scaffold to enhance RSK HM site phosphorylation. Among the known RSK substrates, the CCTβ subunit of the chaperonin containing TCP-1 (CCT) complex had defective phosphorylation in the absence of mTORC2. Our findings indicate that the mTORC2-mediated phosphorylation of the RSK HM site could confer RSK substrate specificity and reveal that RSK responds to nutrient fluctuations.
    Keywords:  AGC kinases; CCT/TRiC; CCTβ; MAPK/ERK; RSK; chaperonin; mTORC2; metabolism; nutrients; p90 ribosomal s6 kinase; starvation
  27. Sci Adv. 2020 Jun;6(25): eabb1989
      The intestinal absorption of cholesterol is mediated by a multipass membrane protein, Niemann-Pick C1-Like 1 (NPC1L1), the molecular target of a cholesterol lowering therapy ezetimibe. While ezetimibe gained Food and Drug Administration approval in 2002, its mechanism of action has remained unclear. Here, we present two cryo-electron microscopy structures of NPC1L1, one in its apo form and the other complexed with ezetimibe. The apo form represents an open state in which the N-terminal domain (NTD) interacts loosely with the rest of NPC1L1, leaving the NTD central cavity accessible for cholesterol loading. The ezetimibe-bound form signifies a closed state in which the NTD rotates ~60°, creating a continuous tunnel enabling cholesterol movement into the plasma membrane. Ezetimibe blocks cholesterol transport by occluding the tunnel instead of competing with cholesterol binding. These findings provide insight into the molecular mechanisms of NPC1L1-mediated cholesterol transport and ezetimibe inhibition, paving the way for more effective therapeutic development.
  28. Prog Mol Biol Transl Sci. 2020 ;pii: S1877-1173(20)30019-3. [Epub ahead of print]172 107-133
      Autophagy is a highly conserved intracellular catabolic process for the degradation of cytoplasmic components that has recently gained increasing attention for its importance in kidney diseases. It is indispensable for the maintenance of kidney homeostasis both in physiological and pathological conditions. Investigations utilizing various kidney cell-specific conditional autophagy-related gene knockouts have facilitated the advancement in understanding of the role of autophagy in the kidney. Recent findings are raising the possibility that defective autophagy exerts a critical role in different pathological conditions of the kidney. An emerging body of evidence reveals that autophagy exhibits cytoprotective functions in both glomerular and tubular compartments of the kidney, suggesting the upregulation of autophagy as an attractive therapeutic strategy. However, there is also accumulating evidence that autophagy could be deleterious, which presents a formidable challenge in developing therapeutic strategies targeting autophagy. Here, we review the recent advances in research on the role of autophagy during different pathological conditions, including acute kidney injury (AKI), focusing on sepsis, ischemia-reperfusion injury, cisplatin, and heavy metal-induced AKI. We also discuss the role of autophagy in chronic kidney disease (CKD) focusing on the pathogenesis of tubulointerstitial fibrosis, podocytopathies including focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, diabetic nephropathy, IgA nephropathy, membranous nephropathy, HIV-associated nephropathy, and polycystic kidney disease.
    Keywords:  Acute kidney injury; Autophagy; Chronic kidney disease; Diabetic nephropathy; Podocytes; Tubular epithelial cells; Tubulointerstitial fibrosis
  29. Prog Mol Biol Transl Sci. 2020 ;pii: S1877-1173(20)30067-3. [Epub ahead of print]172 55-65
      The cellular recycling process of macroautophagy, which is the mechanism by which cellular material is delivered to lysosomes via double membraned vesicles called autophagosomes, is intimately connected to programmed cell death pathways, especially apoptosis. In this article, I discuss some underlying mechanisms and their implications for improving cancer therapy and propose that the approaches that have been taken to understand the autophagy-apoptosis connection to enhance cancer drug action can serve as a model for the kinds of information that should be developed to understand how autophagy controls other biological processes as well.
    Keywords:  Apoptosis; Autophagy; Cancer therapy
  30. Prog Mol Biol Transl Sci. 2020 ;pii: S1877-1173(20)30040-5. [Epub ahead of print]172 67-85
      The molecular machinery of macroautophagy consists of Atg proteins and supports cytoplasmic constituent degradation in lysosomes as its canonical function, phagosome maturation and exocytosis. These different biological processes contribute to cell intrinsic, innate and adaptive immunity. For the respective immune responses, Atg proteins mediate direct pathogen degradation, inflammation restriction, antigen presentation on MHC molecules and survival of memory lymphocyte populations. During adaptive immunity MHC class II presentation of antigens is supported and MHC class I presentation restricted by the macroautophagy machinery. Considering these various functions might allow us to predict the outcome of interventions that manipulate the machinery of Atg proteins as immunotherapies for the benefit of human health.
    Keywords:  Inflammasome; LC3 associated phagocytosis; Lymphocyte survival; MHC presentation; Memory B cells; Memory T cells; Plasma cells
  31. Dev Cell. 2020 Jun 26. pii: S1534-5807(20)30461-5. [Epub ahead of print]
      Aging is associated with a loss of metabolic homeostasis and plasticity, which is causally linked to multiple age-onset pathologies. The majority of the interventions-genetic, dietary, and pharmacological-that have been found to slow aging and protect against age-related disease in various organisms do so by targeting central metabolic pathways. However, targeting metabolic pathways chronically and ubiquitously makes it difficult to define the downstream effects responsible for lifespan extension and often results in negative effects on growth and health, limiting therapeutic potential. Insight into how metabolic signals are relayed between tissues, cells, and organelles opens up new avenues to target metabolic regulators locally rather than globally for healthy aging. In this review, we discuss the pro-longevity effects of targeting metabolic pathways in specific tissues and how these interventions communicate with distal cells to modulate aging. These studies may be crucial in designing interventions that promote longevity without negative health consequences.
    Keywords:  AMPK; NAD+; aging; extracellular vesicles; insulin signaling; mTOR; metabolism; microRNA; sirtuins; tissue-specificity
  32. J Clin Invest. 2020 Jun 29. pii: 130955. [Epub ahead of print]
      Lysosomal enzymes are synthesized in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and transferred to the Golgi complex by interaction with the Batten disease protein CLN8 (ceroid lipofuscinosis, neuronal, 8). Here we investigated the relationship of this pathway with CLN6, an ER-associated protein of unknown function that is defective in a different Batten disease subtype. Experiments focused on protein interaction and trafficking identified CLN6 as an obligate component of a CLN6-CLN8 complex (herein referred to as EGRESS: ER-to-Golgi relaying of enzymes of the lysosomal system), which recruits lysosomal enzymes at the ER to promote their Golgi transfer. Mutagenesis experiments showed that the second luminal loop of CLN6 is required for the interaction of CLN6 with the enzymes but dispensable for interaction with CLN8. In vitro and in vivo studies showed that CLN6 deficiency results in inefficient ER export of lysosomal enzymes and diminished levels of the enzymes at the lysosome. Mice lacking both CLN6 and CLN8 did not display aggravated pathology compared with the single deficiencies, indicating that the EGRESS complex works as a functional unit. These results identify CLN6 and the EGRESS complex as key players in lysosome biogenesis and shed light on the molecular etiology of Batten disease caused by defects in CLN6.
    Keywords:  Cell Biology; Genetic diseases; Lysosomes; Molecular pathology
  33. Prog Mol Biol Transl Sci. 2020 ;pii: S1877-1173(20)30016-8. [Epub ahead of print]172 375-409
      Autophagy has important functions in normal physiology to maintain homeostasis and protect against cellular stresses by the removal of harmful cargos such as dysfunctional organelles, protein aggregates and invading pathogens. The deregulation of autophagy is a hallmark of many diseases and therapeutic targeting of autophagy is highly topical. With the complex role of autophagy in disease it is essential to understand the genetic and molecular basis of the contribution of autophagy to pathogenesis. The model organism, Drosophila, provides a genetically amenable system to dissect out the contribution of autophagy to human disease models. Here we review the roles of autophagy in human disease and how autophagy studies in Drosophila have contributed to the understanding of pathophysiology.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Cancer; Drosophila; Drug discovery; Infectious disease; Neurodegeneration
  34. BMC Biol. 2020 Jul 03. 18(1): 81
      BACKGROUND: mTOR signaling is an essential nutrient and energetic sensing pathway. Here we describe AIMTOR, a sensitive genetically encoded BRET (Bioluminescent Resonance Energy Transfer) biosensor to study mTOR activity in living cells.RESULTS: As a proof of principle, we show in both cell lines and primary cell cultures that AIMTOR BRET intensities are modified by mTOR activity changes induced by specific inhibitors and activators of mTORC1 including amino acids and insulin. We further engineered several versions of AIMTOR enabling subcellular-specific assessment of mTOR activities. We then used AIMTOR to decipher mTOR signaling in physio-pathological conditions. First, we show that mTORC1 activity increases during muscle cell differentiation and in response to leucine stimulation in different subcellular compartments such as the cytosol and at the surface of the lysosome, the nucleus, and near the mitochondria. Second, in hippocampal neurons, we found that the enhancement of neuronal activity increases mTOR signaling. AIMTOR further reveals mTOR-signaling dysfunctions in neurons from mouse models of autism spectrum disorder.
    CONCLUSIONS: Altogether, our results demonstrate that AIMTOR is a sensitive and specific tool to investigate mTOR-signaling dynamics in living cells and phenotype mTORopathies.
    Keywords:  Autism spectrum disorder; BRET; Muscle differentiation; Neuronal activity; mTORC1 Biosensor; mTor signaling; mToropathies
  35. Mol Cell. 2020 Jun 19. pii: S1097-2765(20)30396-8. [Epub ahead of print]
      Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant and accumulate with age in neurons of diverse species. However, only few circRNAs have been functionally characterized, and their role during aging has not been addressed. Here, we use transcriptome profiling during aging and find that accumulation of circRNAs is slowed down in long-lived insulin mutant flies. Next, we characterize the in vivo function of a circRNA generated by the sulfateless gene (circSfl), which is consistently upregulated, particularly in the brain and muscle, of diverse long-lived insulin mutants. Strikingly, lifespan extension of insulin mutants is dependent on circSfl, and overexpression of circSfl alone is sufficient to extend the lifespan. Moreover, circSfl is translated into a protein that shares the N terminus and potentially some functions with the full-length Sfl protein encoded by the host gene. Our study demonstrates that insulin signaling affects global circRNA accumulation and reveals an important role of circSfl during aging in vivo.
    Keywords:  Drosophila; ageing; alternative splicing; backsplicing; circRNA; heparan sulfate; insulin; longevity; non-coding RNAs; sulfateless
  36. Neural Regen Res. 2020 Dec;15(12): 2186-2194
      Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal lobar degeneration are multifaceted diseases with genotypic, pathological and clinical overlap. One such overlap is the presence of SQSTM1/p62 mutations. While traditionally mutations manifesting in the ubiquitin-associated domain of p62 were associated with Paget's disease of bone, mutations affecting all functional domains of p62 have now been identified in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal lobar degeneration patients. p62 is a multifunctional protein that facilitates protein degradation through autophagy and the ubiquitin-proteasome system, and also regulates cell survival via the Nrf2 antioxidant response pathway, the nuclear factor-kappa B signaling pathway and apoptosis. Dysfunction in these signaling and protein degradation pathways have been observed in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal lobar degeneration, and mutations that affect the role of p62 in these pathways may contribute to disease pathogenesis. In this review we discuss the role of p62 in these pathways, the effects of p62 mutations and the effect of mutations in the p62 modulator TANK-binding kinase 1, in relation to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-frontotemporal lobar degeneration pathogenesis.
    Keywords:  aggregate/inclusion body formation; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-frontotemporal lobar degeneration; autophagy; cell signaling; mitophagy; p62/SQSTM1; protein degradation
  37. J Biol Chem. 2020 Jul 02. pii: jbc.RA120.012565. [Epub ahead of print]
      Ambra1 is considered an autophagy and trafficking protein with roles in neurogenesis and cancer cell invasion. Here we report that Ambra1 also localises to the nucleus of cancer cells, where it has a novel nuclear scaffolding function that controls gene expression. Using biochemical fractionation and proteomics, we found that Ambra1 binds to multiple classes of proteins in the nucleus, including nuclear pore proteins, adaptor proteins such as FAK and Akap8, chromatin modifying proteins and transcriptional regulators like Brg1 and Atf2. We identified biologically-important genes such as Angpt1, Tgfb2, Tgfb3, Itga8 and Itgb7 whose transcription is regulated by Ambra1-scaffolded complexes, likely by altering histone modifications and Atf2 activity. Therefore, in addition to its recognised roles in autophagy and trafficking, Ambra1 scaffolds protein complexes at chromatin, regulating transcriptional signalling in the nucleus. This novel function for Ambra1, and the specific genes impacted, may help to explain the wider role of Ambra1 in cancer cell biology.
    Keywords:  Akap8; Ambra1; Atf2; Cdk9; DNA transcription; autophagy; chromatin; nucleus; trafficking
  38. J Biol Chem. 2020 Jul 01. pii: jbc.RA120.013222. [Epub ahead of print]
      The endosomal sorting complexes required for transport (ESCRT) mediate evolutionarily conserved membrane remodeling processes. Here, we used budding yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) to explore how the ESCRT machinery contributes to plasma membrane (PM) homeostasis. We found that in response to reduced membrane tension and inhibition of TOR complex 2 (TORC2), ESCRT-III/Vps4 assemblies form at the PM and help maintain membrane integrity. In turn, the growth of ESCRT mutants strongly depended on TORC2-mediated homeostatic regulation of sphingolipid (SL) metabolism. This was caused by calcineurin-dependent dephosphorylation of Orm2, a repressor of SL biosynthesis. Calcineurin activity impaired Orm2 export from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and thereby hampered its subsequent endosome and Golgi-associated degradation (EGAD). The ensuing accumulation of Orm2 at the ER in ESCRT mutants necessitated TORC2 signaling through its downstream kinase Ypk1, which repressed Orm2 and prevented a detrimental imbalance of SL metabolism. Our findings reveal compensatory cross-talk between the ESCRT machinery, calcineurin/TORC2 signaling, and the EGAD pathway important for the regulation of SL biosynthesis and the maintenance of PM homeostasis.
    Keywords:  Endosome and Golgi-associated degradation (EGAD); ORMDL family; TORC2; calcineurin; endosomal sorting complexes required for transport (ESCRT); mTOR complex (mTORC); membrane; membrane stress; sphingolipid; stress
  39. Elife. 2020 Jun 30. pii: e58281. [Epub ahead of print]9
      The lipid kinase VPS34 orchestrates diverse processes, including autophagy, endocytic sorting, phagocytosis, anabolic responses and cell division. VPS34 forms various complexes that help adapt it to specific pathways, with complexes I and II being the most prominent ones. We found that physicochemical properties of membranes strongly modulate VPS34 activity. Greater unsaturation of both substrate and non-substrate lipids, negative charge and curvature activate VPS34 complexes, adapting them to their cellular compartments. Hydrogen/deuterium exchange mass spectrometry (HDX-MS) of complexes I and II on membranes elucidated structural determinants that enable them to bind membranes. Among these are the Barkor/ATG14L autophagosome targeting sequence (BATS), which makes autophagy-specific complex I more active than the endocytic complex II, and the Beclin1 BARA domain. Interestingly, even though Beclin1 BARA is common to both complexes, its membrane-interacting loops are critical for complex II, but have only a minor role for complex I.
    Keywords:  autophagy; biochemistry; chemical biology; endocytosis; human; membrane defects; molecular biophysics; phosphoinositide 3-kinase; phospholipids; sorting; structural biology