bims-auttor Biomed News
on Autophagy and mTOR
Issue of 2021‒01‒17
35 papers selected by
Viktor Korolchuk, Newcastle University

  1. Matrix Biol. 2021 Jan 08. pii: S0945-053X(21)00001-9. [Epub ahead of print]
      Autophagy is the highly conserved catabolic process, which enables the survival of a cell under unfavorable environmental conditions. In a constantly changing environment, cells must be capable of dynamically oscillating between anabolism and catabolism in order to maintain cellular homeostasis. In this context, the activity of the mechanistic Target Of Rapamycin Complex 1 (mTORC1) is of major importance. As a central signaling node, it directly controls the process of macroautophagy and thus cellular metabolism. Thereby, the control of mTORC1 is equally crucial as the regulation of cellular homeostasis itself, whereby particular importance is attributed to amino acid sensory proteins. In this review, we describe the recent findings of macroautophagy and mTORC1 regulation by upstream amino acid stimuli in different subcellular localizations. We highlight in detail which proteins of the sensor complexes play a specific role in this regulation and point out additional non-canonical functions, e.g. in the regulation of macroautophagy, which have received little attention so far.
  2. Mol Cell Proteomics. 2020 Jul;pii: S1535-9476(20)34976-8. [Epub ahead of print]19(7): 1120-1131
      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), β-Catenin and 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzym-A (HMGCoA)-reductase. Because 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:  Proteases; autophagy; lysosome; proteasome; protein degradation; protein turnover; subcellular analysis
  3. Biotechnol Appl Biochem. 2021 Jan 14.
      Autophagy causes the breakdown of damaged proteins and organelles to their constituent components. The Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway played an important role in regulating the autophagic response of cells in reply to changing reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels. The PI3K α catalytic subunit inhibits autophagy while the β catalytic subunit promotes autophagy in response to changes in ROS levels. The downstream Akt protein acts against autophagy initiation in response to increases in ROS levels under nutrient-rich conditions. Akt acts by activating mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) and by arresting autophagic gene expression. AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) protein counteracts the Akt actions. mTORC1 and mTORC2 inhibit autophagy under moderate ROS levels, but under high ROS levels, mTORC2 can promote cellular senescence via autophagy. Phosphatase and Tensin Homologue (PTEN) protein is the negative regulator of the PI3K pathway, and it has pro-autophagic activities. Studies conducted on cells treated with flavonoids and ionizing radiation showed that the moderate increase in ROS levels in the flavonoid treated groups corresponded with higher PTEN levels and lowered Akt levels leading to a higher occurrence of autophagy. In contrast, higher ROS level evoked by ionizing radiation caused a lowering of the incidence of autophagy. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Keywords:  AMPK; Akt; Autophagy; Beclin-1; PI3K; ROS; apoptosis; cancer; flavonoid; mTOR
  4. Autophagy. 2021 Jan 14.
      Autophagic pathways are regulated mechanisms that play important roles in lysosome-mediated cellular degradation. Yet, the contribution of different autophagic pathways in lysosomal targeting, and characterization of the extent and specificity in their degradome remains largely uncharacterized. By undertaking a multiplex quantitative mass spectrometry approach, we have previously analyzed the lysosomal proteome during chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA)-stimulated conditions in cancer cells. Here, we have extended our multiplex quantitative mass spectrometry and bioinformatics analysis on the proteome from isolated lysosomes to gain a comprehensive view of the temporal enriched lysosomal content upon non-macroautophagy-activated conditions. In parallel, we described the functional dependency of LAMP2A on, and to what degree the presence of KFERQ-like motifs in proteins influences, their lysosomal targeting. These findings establish a framework for a better understanding of the degradome mediated by autophagic pathways beyond macroautophagy, and present characterization of the impact of LAMP2A in lysosomal targeting in cancer cells.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; cancer; chaperone-mediated autophagy; lysosome; proteomics
  5. Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2021 Jan 11. pii: S0955-0674(20)30176-9. [Epub ahead of print]69 23-29
      Autophagy is an intracellular degradation system that contributes to cellular homeostasis. Autophagosome formation is a landmark event in autophagy, which sequesters and delivers cytoplasmic components to the lysosome for degradation. Based on selectivity, autophagy can be classified into bulk and selective autophagy, which are mechanistically distinct from each other, especially in the requirement of cargos for autophagosome formation. Recent studies revealed that liquid-like biomolecular condensates, which are formed through liquid-liquid phase separation, regulate the autophagosome formation of both bulk and selective autophagy. Here, we focus on recent findings on the involvement of biomolecular condensates in autophagy regulation and discuss their significance.
    Keywords:  Ape1; Autophagy; Biomolecular condensate; Bulk autophagy; Cvt pathway; PAS; Phase separation; Selective autophagy; p62
  6. Genes (Basel). 2021 Jan 12. pii: E88. [Epub ahead of print]12(1):
      Target of rapamycin complex 1 (TORC1), a serine/threonine-protein kinase complex highly conserved among eukaryotes, coordinates cellular growth and metabolism with environmental cues, including nutrients and growth factors. Aberrant TORC1 signaling is associated with cancers and various human diseases, and TORC1 also plays a key role in ageing and lifespan, urging current active research on the mechanisms of TORC1 regulation in a variety of model organisms. Identification and characterization of the RAG small GTPases as well as their regulators, many of which are highly conserved from yeast to humans, led to a series of breakthroughs in understanding the molecular bases of TORC1 regulation. Recruitment of mammalian TORC1 (mTORC1) by RAGs to lysosomal membranes is a key step for mTORC1 activation. Interestingly, the RAG GTPases in fission yeast are primarily responsible for attenuation of TORC1 activity on vacuoles, the yeast equivalent of lysosomes. In this review, we summarize our current knowledge about the functions of TORC1 regulators on yeast vacuoles, and illustrate the conserved and divergent mechanisms of TORC1 regulation between yeasts and mammals.
    Keywords:  GTPase; TOR complex 1 (TORC1); target of rapamycin (TOR); yeast
  7. EMBO J. 2021 Jan 13. e104705
      Degradation of mitochondria via a selective form of autophagy, named mitophagy, is a fundamental mechanism conserved from yeast to humans that regulates mitochondrial quality and quantity control. Mitophagy is promoted via specific mitochondrial outer membrane receptors, or ubiquitin molecules conjugated to proteins on the mitochondrial surface leading to the formation of autophagosomes surrounding mitochondria. Mitophagy-mediated elimination of mitochondria plays an important role in many processes including early embryonic development, cell differentiation, inflammation, and apoptosis. Recent advances in analyzing mitophagy in vivo also reveal high rates of steady-state mitochondrial turnover in diverse cell types, highlighting the intracellular housekeeping role of mitophagy. Defects in mitophagy are associated with various pathological conditions such as neurodegeneration, heart failure, cancer, and aging, further underscoring the biological relevance. Here, we review our current molecular understanding of mitophagy, and its physiological implications, and discuss how multiple mitophagy pathways coordinately modulate mitochondrial fitness and populations.
    Keywords:  autophagy; mitochondria; phosphorylation; quality and quantity control; ubiquitin
  8. Nature. 2021 Jan 13.
      The activation of mostly quiescent haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) is a prerequisite for life-long production of blood cells1. This process requires major molecular adaptations to allow HSCs to meet the regulatory and metabolic requirements for cell division2-4. The mechanisms that govern cellular reprograming upon stem-cell activation, and the subsequent return of stem cells to quiescence, have not been fully characterized. Here we show that chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA)5, a selective form of lysosomal protein degradation, is involved in sustaining HSC function in adult mice. CMA is required for protein quality control in stem cells and for the upregulation of fatty acid metabolism upon HSC activation. We find that CMA activity in HSCs decreases with age and show that genetic or pharmacological activation of CMA can restore the functionality of old mouse and human HSCs. Together, our findings provide mechanistic insights into a role for CMA in sustaining quality control, appropriate energetics and overall long-term HSC function. Our work suggests that CMA may be a promising therapeutic target for enhancing HSC function in conditions such as ageing or stem-cell transplantation.
  9. Mol Cell Proteomics. 2020 Feb;pii: S1535-9476(20)35080-5. [Epub ahead of print]19(2): 294-307
      Aberrantly high mTORC1 signaling is a known driver of many cancers and human disorders, yet pharmacological inhibition of mTORC1 rarely confers durable clinical responses. To explore alternative therapeutic strategies, herein we conducted a proteomics survey to identify cell surface proteins upregulated by mTORC1. A comparison of the surfaceome from Tsc1-/-versus Tsc1+/+ mouse embryonic fibroblasts revealed 59 proteins predicted to be significantly overexpressed in Tsc1-/- cells. Further validation of the data in multiple mouse and human cell lines showed that mTORC1 signaling most dramatically induced the expression of the proteases neprilysin (NEP/CD10) and aminopeptidase N (APN/CD13). Functional studies showed that constitutive mTORC1 signaling sensitized cells to genetic ablation of NEP and APN, as well as the biochemical inhibition of APN. In summary, these data show that mTORC1 signaling plays a significant role in the constitution of the surfaceome, which in turn may present novel therapeutic strategies.
    Keywords:  SILAC; cancer biology; cancer therapeutics; cell biology; drug targets; membranes; mouse models
  10. Mol Cell Proteomics. 2020 Jul;pii: S1535-9476(20)34975-6. [Epub ahead of print]19(7): 1104-1119
      Stimulating brown adipose tissue (BAT) activity represents a promising therapy for overcoming metabolic diseases. mTORC2 is important for regulating BAT metabolism, but its downstream targets have not been fully characterized. In this study, we apply proteomics and phosphoproteomics to investigate the downstream effectors of mTORC2 in brown adipocytes. We compare wild-type controls to isogenic cells with an induced knockout of the mTORC2 subunit RICTOR (Rictor-iKO) by stimulating each with insulin for a 30-min time course. In Rictor-iKO cells, we identify decreases to the abundance of glycolytic and de novo lipogenesis enzymes, and increases to mitochondrial proteins as well as a set of proteins known to increase upon interferon stimulation. We also observe significant differences to basal phosphorylation because of chronic RICTOR loss including decreased phosphorylation of the lipid droplet protein perilipin-1 in Rictor-iKO cells, suggesting that RICTOR could be involved with regulating basal lipolysis or droplet dynamics. Finally, we observe mild dampening of acute insulin signaling response in Rictor-iKO cells, and a subset of AKT substrates exhibiting statistically significant dependence on RICTOR.
    Keywords:  Phosphoproteome; adipocytes; insulin signaling; mTOR; phosphorylation; signal transduction; signaling circuits; targeted mass spectrometry
  11. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Jan 05. pii: e2005539118. [Epub ahead of print]118(1):
      Macroautophagy/autophagy is a highly conserved eukaryotic molecular process that facilitates the recycling of superfluous cytoplasmic materials, damaged organelles, and invading pathogens, resulting in proper cellular homeostasis and survival during stress conditions. Autophagy is stringently regulated at multiple stages, including control at transcriptional, translational, and posttranslational levels. In this work, we identified a mechanism by which regulation of autophagy is achieved through the posttranslational modification of Atg9. Here, we show that, in order to limit autophagy to a low, basal level during normal conditions, Atg9 is ubiquitinated and subsequently targeted for degradation in a proteasome-dependent manner through the action of the E3 ligase Met30. When cells require increased autophagy flux to respond to nutrient deprivation, the proteolysis of Atg9 is significantly reduced. Overall, this work reveals an additional layer of mechanistic regulation that allows cells to further maintain appropriate levels of autophagy and to rapidly induce this process in response to stress.
    Keywords:  autophagy; degradation; lysosome; ubiquitination; vacuole
  12. Nat Commun. 2021 01 12. 12(1): 339
      Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) integrates upstream stimuli and regulates cell growth by controlling the activity of mTORC1. TSC complex functions as a GTPase-activating protein (GAP) towards small GTPase Rheb and inhibits Rheb-mediated activation of mTORC1. Mutations in TSC genes cause tuberous sclerosis. In this study, the near-atomic resolution structure of human TSC complex reveals an arch-shaped architecture, with a 2:2:1 stoichiometry of TSC1, TSC2, and TBC1D7. This asymmetric complex consists of two interweaved TSC1 coiled-coil and one TBC1D7 that spans over the tail-to-tail TSC2 dimer. The two TSC2 GAP domains are symmetrically cradled within the core module formed by TSC2 dimerization domain and central coiled-coil of TSC1. Structural and biochemical analyses reveal TSC2 GAP-Rheb complimentary interactions and suggest a catalytic mechanism, by which an asparagine thumb (N1643) stabilizes γ-phosphate of GTP and accelerate GTP hydrolysis of Rheb. Our study reveals mechanisms of TSC complex assembly and GAP activity.
  13. Autophagy. 2021 Jan 15. 1-3
      Phosphatidylinositol-3-phosphate (PtdIns3P) is essential for generating autophagosomes and regulating endocytic trafficking. Recently, we have shown that the activities of human PIK3C3/VPS34-containing complexes I and II, which synthesize PtdIns3P, are greatly affected by three membrane physicochemical parameters: lipid unsaturation, membrane curvature, and negative charge. Both complexes are more active on membranes composed of unsaturated lipids than saturated lipids, and high membrane curvature can compensate for the negative effect of high lipid saturation. Negatively charged phosphatidylserine (PS) activates the complexes, as well as PIK3C3/VPS34 alone. The kinase activity of complex I depends critically on the ATG14 BATS domain, whereas complex II relies on the BECN1 BARA domain. Our findings highlight the importance of the membrane character as sensed by the unique membrane binding motifs/domain of the complexes for regulating PIK3C3/VPS34 activity.
    Keywords:  BARA; bats; curvature; electrostatics; lipid; packing; pik3c3/VPS34; ptdins3p; unsaturation
  14. Cardiovasc Toxicol. 2021 Jan 12.
      Doxorubicin (DOX) is the most effective and extensively used treatment for many tumors. However, its clinical use is hampered by its cardiotoxicity. DOX-induced mitochondrial dysfunction, which causes reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, cardiomyocyte death, bioenergetic failure, and decreased cardiac function, is a very important mechanism of cardiotoxicity. These cellular processes are all linked by mitochondrial sirtuins (SIRT3-SIRT4). Mitochondrial sirtuins preserve mitochondrial function by increasing mitochondrial metabolism, inhibiting ROS generation by activating the antioxidant enzyme manganese-dependent superoxide dismutase (MnSOD), decreasing apoptosis by activating the forkhead homeobox type O (FOXO) and P53 pathways, and increasing autophagy through AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK)/mTOR signaling. Thus, sirtuins function at the control point of many mechanisms involved in DOX-induced cardiotoxicity. In this review, we focus on the role of mitochondrial sirtuins in mitochondrial biology and DOX-induced cardiotoxicity. A further aim is to highlight other mitochondrial processes, such as autophagy (mitophagy) and mitochondrial quality control (MQC), for which the effect of mitochondrial sirtuins on cardiotoxicity is unknown.
    Keywords:  Doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity; Metabolic processes; Mitochondrial biology; Mitochondrial quality control; Mitochondrial sirtuins; Reactive oxygen species
  15. Dev Cell. 2021 Jan 11. pii: S1534-5807(20)31019-4. [Epub ahead of print]56(1): 5-6
      The control of gut homeostasis by autophagy in the context of host-microbiota relationship remains poorly understood. In this issue of Developmental Cell, Nagai et al. (2021) show that autophagy plays a crucial role in enterocytes to prevent the mis-regulation of the Hippo-Yorkie pathway by the microbiota.
  16. Autophagy. 2021 Jan 12.
      Dysfunctional organelles and defective turnover of organelles are engaged in multiple human diseases, but are elusive to image with conventional organelle probes. To overcome this, we developed intra-mitochondrial CLICK to assess mitophagy (IMCLAM), using a pair of conventional ΔΨm probes, where each probe alone fails to track dysfunctional mitochondria. The in situ formed optical triad is stably trapped in mitochondria without resorting to ΔΨm. Utilizing an acidity-responsive ΔΨm probe, IMCLAM enabled fluorescence-on detection of mitophagy by sensing pH acidification upon delivery of mitochondria into lysosomes. Moreover, we applied IMCLAM to assay mitophagy induced by pharmacological compounds in living cells and wild-type zebrafish embryos. Thus, IMCLAM offers a simplified tool to study mitochondria and mitophagy and provide a basis for screening mitophagy-inducing compounds. Graph abstract [Formula: see text].
    Keywords:  bioorthogonal reaction; dysfunctional organelle; fluorescence-on imaging; mitophagy; mitophagy inducer
  17. Cell Signal. 2021 Jan 07. pii: S0898-6568(20)30389-2. [Epub ahead of print] 109911
      Our previous data indicate that both insulin and IGF-1 signallings dysfunction promotes the dedifferentiation of primary human and mouse white adipocytes. Based on the fact that insulin activates mTOR and inhibits autophagy, and autophagy deficiency can inhibit the differentiation of white adipocytes, we speculate that autophagy may be related to the dedifferentiation of white adipocytes. We investigated the underlying mechanism of autophagy during dedifferentiation of mouse 3T3-L1 adipocytes. After incomplete inhibition of insulin and IGF-1 signallings, 3T3-L1 adipocytes manifest dedifferentiation accompanied with an increase of autophagy level. If induction only of autophagy in the adipocytes, then the cells also occur somewhat dedifferentiation, and with a slight decrease of insulin signal, while its degree was weaker than insulin signal inhibited cells. Notably, after inhibition of the insulin and IGF-1 signallings and simultaneously inducing autophagy, the dedifferentiation of 3T3-L1 adipocytes was the most obvious compared with other groups, and the insulin and IGF-1 signal decreases was greater than the cells with inhibition only of insulin signaling. If inhibition of both insulin signal and autophagy simultaneously, the dedifferentiation of the adipocytes reveals similar tendencies to the cells that insulin signal was inhibited. No significant dedifferentiation occurs of 3T3-L1 cells if only inhibition of autophagy. Taken all together, in this study, we proved that autophagy is positively related to the dedifferentiation of 3T3-L1 adipocytes and is regulated through the insulin-PI3K-AKT-mTOCR1-autophagy pathway. Autophagy may also has a certain degree of negative feedback affect on the insulin signal of 3T3-L1 cells. Our work may help to better understand the biological properties of mature adipocytes and may help formulate anti-obesity strategies by regulating insulin level.
    Keywords:  Adipocyte dedifferentiation; Autophagy; Insulin signal; mTORC1
  18. Sci Rep. 2021 Jan 12. 11(1): 584
      Many of the characteristics ascribed to cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are shared by activated, autophagic and senescent fibroblasts. Whilst most oral squamous cell carcinomas (OSCCs) are genetically unstable (GU-OSCC), genetically stable variants (GS-OSCC) have been described and, notably, CAF activation (myofibroblast differentiation) and senescence are characteristics particularly associated with GU-OSCCs. However, it is not known whether autophagy is disrupted in these cells or whether autophagy regulates the development of the myofibroblast and senescent phenotypes. In this study, we show that senescent CAFs from GU-OSCCs contained more autophagosomes than normal human oral fibroblasts (NHOFs) and CAFs from GS-OSCCs possibly due to autophagic impairment. Further, we show that deregulation of autophagy in normal fibroblasts, either by inhibition with autophagy inhibitor, SAR405, or activation with TGF-β1, induced fibroblast activation and senescence: In response to TGF-β1, autophagy was induced prior to the development of the activated and senescent phenotypes. Lastly, we show that both SAR405- and TGF-β1-treated NHOFs enhance OSCC cell migration but only TGF-β1-treated cells increase OSCC invasion through Matrigel, indicating that TGF-β1 has additional effects that are independent of fibroblast activation/senescence. These results suggest a functional role for autophagy in the development of myofibroblast and CAF phenotypes.
  19. Sci Rep. 2021 Jan 15. 11(1): 1483
      Mitochondrial dysfunction and neurodegeneration underlie movement disorders such as Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease and Manganism among others. As a corollary, inhibition of mitochondrial complex I (CI) and complex II (CII) by toxins 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium (MPP+) and 3-nitropropionic acid (3-NPA) respectively, induced degenerative changes noted in such neurodegenerative diseases. We aimed to unravel the down-stream pathways associated with CII inhibition and compared with CI inhibition and the Manganese (Mn) neurotoxicity. Genome-wide transcriptomics of N27 neuronal cells exposed to 3-NPA, compared with MPP+ and Mn revealed varied transcriptomic profile. Along with mitochondrial and synaptic pathways, Autophagy was the predominant pathway differentially regulated in the 3-NPA model with implications for neuronal survival. This pathway was unique to 3-NPA, as substantiated by in silico modelling of the three toxins. Morphological and biochemical validation of autophagy markers in the cell model of 3-NPA revealed incomplete autophagy mediated by mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 2 (mTORC2) pathway. Interestingly, Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which was elevated in the 3-NPA model could confer neuroprotection against 3-NPA. We propose that, different downstream events are activated upon neurotoxin-dependent CII inhibition compared to other neurotoxins, with implications for movement disorders and regulation of autophagy could potentially offer neuroprotection.
  20. J Cell Biol. 2021 Mar 01. pii: e202009194. [Epub ahead of print]220(3):
      The mechanism of isolation membrane formation in autophagy is receiving intensive study. We recently found that Atg9 translocates phospholipids across liposomal membranes and proposed that this functionality plays an essential role in the expansion of isolation membranes. The distribution of phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate in both leaflets of yeast autophagosomal membranes supports this proposal, but if Atg9-mediated lipid transport is crucial, symmetrical distribution in autophagosomes should be found broadly for other phospholipids. To test this idea, we analyzed the distributions of phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylserine, and phosphatidylinositol 4-phosphate by freeze-fracture electron microscopy. We found that all these phospholipids are distributed with comparable densities in the two leaflets of autophagosomes and autophagic bodies. Moreover, de novo-synthesized phosphatidylcholine is incorporated into autophagosomes preferentially and shows symmetrical distribution in autophagosomes within 30 min after synthesis, whereas this symmetrical distribution is compromised in yeast expressing an Atg9 mutant. These results indicate that transbilayer phospholipid movement that is mediated by Atg9 is involved in the biogenesis of autophagosomes.
  21. Chem Commun (Camb). 2021 Jan 14.
      We present a ratiometric fluorescent probe for monitoring pH featuring superb photostability and chemostability. The down-regulation of the intracellular pH during autophagy in living cells induced by various stimuli, including several drugs and starvation, was quantified, which could provide instructive value to construct autophagy models to study the related pathological processes.
  22. Cells. 2021 Jan 10. pii: E116. [Epub ahead of print]10(1):
      The Special Issue of Cells on "Ubiquitin and Autophagy" is a tribute to the multifaceted role of ubiquitin and autophagic ubiquitin-like (UBL) proteins in the autophagy-related (ATG) pathways [...].
  23. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Jan 12. pii: E710. [Epub ahead of print]22(2):
      The lysosomal storage disorders Niemann-Pick disease Type C1 (NPC1) and Type C2 (NPC2) are rare diseases caused by mutations in the NPC1 or NPC2 gene. Both NPC1 and NPC2 are proteins responsible for the exit of cholesterol from late endosomes and lysosomes (LE/LY). Consequently, mutations in one of the two proteins lead to the accumulation of unesterified cholesterol and glycosphingolipids in LE/LY, displaying a disease hallmark. A total of 95% of cases are due to a deficiency of NPC1 and only 5% are caused by NPC2 deficiency. Clinical manifestations include neurological symptoms and systemic symptoms, such as hepatosplenomegaly and pulmonary manifestations, the latter being particularly pronounced in NPC2 patients. NPC1 and NPC2 are rare diseases with the described neurovisceral clinical picture, but studies with human primary patient-derived neurons and hepatocytes are hardly feasible. Obviously, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and their derivatives are an excellent alternative for indispensable studies with these affected cell types to study the multisystemic disease NPC1. Here, we present a review focusing on studies that have used iPSCs for disease modeling and drug discovery in NPC1 and draw a comparison to commonly used NPC1 models.
    Keywords:  NPC1; NPC2; cholesterol; iPSCs; induced pluripotent stem cells; lysosomal storage disorders; neurodegeneration; patient-specific iPSCs
  24. Front Oncol. 2020 ;10 516746
      Cathepsin S (CTSS), a lysosomal cysteine protease, is overexpressed in various cancers, including glioblastoma (GB). A high level of CTSS is associated with tumor progression and poor outcome in GB. However, the underlying mechanisms of its role in the biological characteristics of G5B remain to be elucidated. Here, we uncovered a potential role of CTSS in the lysosomes and mitochondria of GB cells (GBCs). Downregulation of CTSS in GBCs could increase the expression of autophagy-related proteins; however, there was no significant change in p62, suggesting autophagy blockade. Moreover, inhibition of CTSS increased the expression of mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU) and enhanced mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake ability, causing mitochondrial Ca2+ overload, the generation of copious reactive oxygen species (ROS) and eventual mitochondrial apoptosis. Additionally, elevated damage to mitochondria exacerbated the burden of autophagy. Finally, we found that silence of MCU could alleviate the inhibition of CTSS-induced autophagosome accumulation and mitochondrial stress. Collectively, these results demonstrate that CTSS plays an important role in the process of autophagic flux and mitochondrial functions in GBCs.
    Keywords:  autophagy; cathepsin S; glioblastoma; mitochondrial calcium uniporter; mitophagy
  25. Cancer Cell Int. 2021 Jan 14. 21(1): 52
      BACKGROUND: Osteosarcoma (OS) is a malignant tumor of the bone mostly observed in children and adolescents. The current treatment approach includes neoadjuvant and adjuvant chemotherapy; however, drug resistance often hinders therapy in OS patients. Also, the post-relapse survival of OS patients is as low as 20%. We therefore planned to understand the molecular cause for its poor prognosis and design an appropriate therapeutic strategy to combat the disease.METHODS: We analyzed OS patient dataset from Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) and identified the differentially expressed genes and the top deregulated pathways in OS. Subsequently, drugs targeting the major de-regulated pathways were selected and the following assays were conducted- MTT assay to assess cytotoxicity of drugs in OS cells; immunoblotting and immunostaining to analyze key protein expression and localization after drug treatment; LysoTracker staining to monitor lysosomes; Acridine Orange to label acidic vesicles; and DCFDA to measure Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS).
    RESULTS: The differential gene expression analysis from OS patient dataset implicated the striking involvement of cellular processes linked to autophagy and protein processing in the development of OS. We therefore selected the FDA approved drugs, chloroquine (CQ) and verteporfin (VP) known for autophagy inhibitory and proteotoxic functions to explore against OS. Importantly, VP, but not CQ, showed an extensive dose-dependent cytotoxicity. It resulted in autophagy disruption at multiple steps extending from perturbation of early autophagic processes, inhibition of autophagic flux to induction of lysosomal instability. Interestingly, VP treated protein lysates showed a ROS-dependent high molecular weight (HMW) band when probed for P62 and P53 protein. Further, VP triggered accumulation of ubiquitinated proteins as well. Since VP had a pronounced disruptive effect on cellular protein homeostasis, we explored the possibility of simultaneous inhibition of the ubiquitin-proteasomal system (UPS) by MG-132 (MG). Addition of a proteasomal inhibitor significantly aggravated VP induced cytotoxicity. MG co-treatment also led to selective targeting of P53 to the lysosomes.
    CONCLUSION: Herein, we propose VP and MG induce regulation of autophagy and protein homeostasis which can be exploited as an effective therapeutic strategy against osteosarcoma.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Osteosarcoma; P53; Proteasome inhibitor; Verteporfin
  26. Dev Cell. 2020 Dec 16. pii: S1534-5807(20)31016-9. [Epub ahead of print]
      Autophagy acts as a cellular surveillance mechanism to combat invading pathogens. Viruses have evolved various strategies to block autophagy and even subvert it for their replication and release. Here, we demonstrated that ORF3a of the COVID-19 virus SARS-CoV-2 inhibits autophagy activity by blocking fusion of autophagosomes/amphisomes with lysosomes. The late endosome-localized ORF3a directly interacts with and sequestrates the homotypic fusion and protein sorting (HOPS) component VPS39, thereby preventing HOPS complex from interacting with the autophagosomal SNARE protein STX17. This blocks assembly of the STX17-SNAP29-VAMP8 SNARE complex, which mediates autophagosome/amphisome fusion with lysosomes. Expression of ORF3a also damages lysosomes and impairs their function. SARS-CoV-2 virus infection blocks autophagy, resulting in accumulation of autophagosomes/amphisomes, and causes late endosomal sequestration of VPS39. Surprisingly, ORF3a from the SARS virus SARS-CoV fails to interact with HOPS or block autophagy. Our study reveals a mechanism by which SARS-CoV-2 evades lysosomal destruction and provides insights for developing new strategies to treat COVID-19.
    Keywords:  COVID-19; DMV; HOPS; ORF3a; SARS-CoV-2; SNARE; autophagy
  27. Cells. 2021 Jan 07. pii: E95. [Epub ahead of print]10(1):
      Autophagy flux is the rate at which cytoplasmic components are degraded through the entire autophagy pathway and is often measured by monitoring the clearance rate of autophagosomes. The specific means by which autophagy targets specific cargo has recently gained major attention due to the role of autophagy in human pathologies, where specific proteinaceous cargo is insufficiently recruited to the autophagosome compartment, albeit functional autophagy activity. In this context, the dynamic interplay between receptor proteins such as p62/Sequestosome-1 and neighbour of BRCA1 gene 1 (NBR1) has gained attention. However, the extent of receptor protein recruitment and subsequent clearance alongside autophagosomes under different autophagy activities remains unclear. Here, we dissect the concentration-dependent and temporal impact of rapamycin and spermidine exposure on receptor recruitment, clearance and autophagosome turnover over time, employing micropatterning. Our results reveal a distinct autophagy activity response profile, where the extent of autophagosome and receptor co-localisation does not involve the total pool of either entities and does not operate in similar fashion. These results suggest that autophagosome turnover and specific cargo clearance are distinct entities with inherent properties, distinctively contributing towards total functional autophagy activity. These findings are of significance for future studies where disease specific protein aggregates require clearance to preserve cellular proteostasis and viability and highlight the need of discerning and better tuning autophagy machinery activity and cargo clearance.
    Keywords:  autophagy; autophagy flux; cargo receptor; co-localisation; recruitment; turnover
  28. Semin Cancer Biol. 2021 Jan 09. pii: S1044-579X(21)00005-5. [Epub ahead of print]
      Evidence demonstrates the importance of lipid metabolism and signaling in cancer cell biology. De novo lipogenesis is an important source of lipids for cancer cells, but exogenous lipid uptake remains essential for many cancer cells. Dietary lipids can modify lipids present in tumor microenvironment affecting cancer cell metabolism. Clinical trials have shown that diets rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) can negatively affect tumor growth. However, certain n-6 PUFAs can also contribute to cancer progression. Identifying the molecular mechanisms through which lipids affect cancer progression will provide an opportunity for focused dietary interventions that could translate into the development of personalized diets for cancer control. However, the effective mechanisms of action of PUFAs have not been fully clarified yet. Mitochondria controls ATP generation, redox homeostasis, metabolic signaling, apoptotic pathways and many aspects of autophagy, and it has been recognized to play a key role in cancer. The purpose of this review is to summarize the current evidence linking dietary lipids effects on mitochondrial aspects with consequences for cancer progression and the molecular mechanisms that underlie this association.
    Keywords:  Apoptosis; autophagy; bioenergetics; lipogenesis; redox biology
  29. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Jan 13. pii: E740. [Epub ahead of print]22(2):
      Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a lethal neurodegenerative disease that usually results in respiratory paralysis in an interval of 2 to 4 years. ALS shows a multifactorial pathogenesis with an unknown etiology, and currently lacks an effective treatment. The vast majority of patients exhibit protein aggregation and a dysfunctional mitochondrial accumulation in their motoneurons. As a result, autophagy and mitophagy modulators may be interesting drug candidates that mitigate key pathological hallmarks of the disease. This work reviews the most relevant evidence that correlate mitophagy defects and ALS, and discusses the possibility of considering mitophagy as an interesting target in the search for an effective treatment for ALS.
    Keywords:  amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; drug target; mitochondria; mitophagy
  30. Int J Mol Med. 2021 Mar;pii: 19. [Epub ahead of print]47(3):
      Metabolism reprogramming influences the severity of organ dysfunction, progression to fibrosis, and development of disease in acute kidney injury (AKI). Previously we showed that inhibition of aerobic glycolysis improved survival rates and protected septic mice from kidney injury. However, the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. In the present study, it was revealed that sepsis or lipopolysaccharide (LPS) enhanced aerobic glycolysis as evidenced by increased lactate production and upregulated mRNA expression of glycolysis‑related genes in kidney tissues and human renal tubular epithelial (HK‑2) cells. The aerobic glycolysis inhibitor 2‑deoxy‑D‑glucose (2‑DG) downregulated glycolysis, and improved kidney injury induced by sepsis. 2‑DG treatments increased the expression of sirtuin 3 (SIRT3) and phosphorylation‑AMP‑activated protein kinase (p‑AMPK), following promoted autophagy and attenuated apoptosis of tubular epithelial cells in septic mice and in LPS‑treated HK‑2 cells. However, the glycolysis metabolite lactate downregulated SIRT3 and p‑AMPK expression, inhibited autophagy and enhanced apoptosis in LPS‑treated HK‑2 cells. Furthermore, pharmacological blockade of autophagy with 3‑methyladenine (3‑MA) partially abolished the protective effect of 2‑DG in sepsis‑induced AKI. These findings indicated that inhibition of aerobic glycolysis protected against sepsis‑induced AKI by promoting autophagy via the lactate/SIRT3/AMPK pathway.
  31. Nat Commun. 2021 01 11. 12(1): 245
      Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a high remission, high relapse fatal blood cancer. Although mTORC1 is a master regulator of cell proliferation and survival, its inhibitors have not performed well as AML treatments. To uncover the dynamics of mTORC1 activity in vivo, fluorescent probes are developed to track single cell proliferation, apoptosis and mTORC1 activity of AML cells in the bone marrow of live animals and to quantify these activities in the context of microanatomical localization and intra-tumoral heterogeneity. When chemotherapy drugs commonly used clinically are given to mice with AML, apoptosis is rapid, diffuse and not preferentially restricted to anatomic sites. Dynamic measurement of mTORC1 activity indicated a decline in mTORC1 activity with AML progression. However, at the time of maximal chemotherapy response, mTORC1 signaling is high and positively correlated with a leukemia stemness transcriptional profile. Cell barcoding reveals the induction of mTORC1 activity rather than selection of mTORC1 high cells and timed inhibition of mTORC1 improved the killing of AML cells. These data define the real-time dynamics of AML and the mTORC1 pathway in association with AML growth, response to and relapse after chemotherapy. They provide guidance for timed intervention with pathway-specific inhibitors.
  32. Matrix Biol. 2021 Jan 06. pii: S0945-053X(21)00002-0. [Epub ahead of print]
      Wound healing is a complex sequence of tissue protection, replacement, and reorganization leading to regenerated tissue. Disruption of any of these steps results in the process being incomplete as an ulcer or over-exuberant as a hypertrophic scar. Over the past decade, it has become evident that the extracellular matrix and associated components orchestrate this process. However, the cellular events that are induced by the extracellular matrix to accomplish wound healing remain to be defined. Herein we propose that matrix-regulated cellular macro-autophagy is key to both the tissue replacement and resolution stages of healing by directing cellular function or apoptosis. Further, disruptions in matrix turnover alter autophagic function leading to chronic wounds or scarring. While the literature that directly investigates autophagy during wound healing is sparse, the emerging picture supports our proposing a model of the centrality of the matrix-autophagy modulation as central to physiologic and pathologic healing.
    Keywords:  Chronic wounds; Decorin; Macro-autophagy; Matricellular proteins; Mitophagy; Scars; Tenascin-C
  33. Sci Immunol. 2020 Dec 18. pii: eabb9561. [Epub ahead of print]5(54):
      Although T cell checkpoint inhibitors have transformed the treatment of cancer, the molecular determinants of tumor cell sensitivity to T cell-mediated killing need further elucidation. Here, we describe a mouse genome-scale CRISPR knockout screen that identifies tumor cell TNFα signaling as an important component of T cell-induced apoptosis, with NF-κB signaling and autophagy as major protective mechanisms. Knockout of individual autophagy genes sensitized tumor cells to killing by T cells that were activated via specific TCR or by a CD3 bispecific antibody. Conversely, inhibition of mTOR signaling, which results in increased autophagic activity, protected tumor cells from T cell killing. Autophagy functions at a relatively early step in the TNFα signaling pathway, limiting FADD-dependent caspase-8 activation. Genetic inactivation of tumor cell autophagy enhanced the efficacy of immune checkpoint blockade in mouse tumor models. Thus, targeting the protective autophagy pathway might sensitize tumors to T cell-engaging immunotherapies in the clinic.
  34. Nat Commun. 2021 01 14. 12(1): 374
      During autophagy the enzyme Atg3 catalyzes the covalent conjugation of LC3 to the amino group of phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) lipids, which is one of the key steps in autophagosome formation. Here, we have demonstrated that an N-terminal conserved region of human Atg3 (hAtg3) communicates information from the N-terminal membrane curvature-sensitive amphipathic helix (AH), which presumably targets the enzyme to the tip of phagophore, to the C-terminally located catalytic core for LC3-PE conjugation. Mutations in the putative communication region greatly reduce or abolish the ability of hAtg3 to catalyze this conjugation in vitro and in vivo, and alter the membrane-bound conformation of the wild-type protein, as reported by NMR. Collectively, our results demonstrate that the N-terminal conserved region of hAtg3 works in concert with its geometry-selective AH to promote LC3-PE conjugation only on the target membrane, and substantiate the concept that highly curved membranes drive spatial regulation of the autophagosome biogenesis during autophagy.
  35. Antioxidants (Basel). 2021 Jan 12. pii: E102. [Epub ahead of print]10(1):
      Reactive oxygen species (ROS) operate as key regulators of cellular homeostasis within a physiological range of concentrations, yet they turn into cytotoxic entities when their levels exceed a threshold limit. Accordingly, ROS are an important etiological cue for obesity, which in turn represents a major risk factor for multiple diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disorders, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and cancer. Therefore, the implementation of novel therapeutic strategies to improve the obese phenotype by targeting oxidative stress is of great interest for the scientific community. To this end, it is of high importance to shed light on the mechanisms through which cells curtail ROS production or limit their toxic effects, in order to harness them in anti-obesity therapy. In this review, we specifically discuss the role of autophagy in redox biology, focusing on its implication in the pathogenesis of obesity. Because autophagy is specifically triggered in response to redox imbalance as a quintessential cytoprotective mechanism, maneuvers based on the activation of autophagy hold promises of efficacy for the prevention and treatment of obesity and obesity-related morbidities.
    Keywords:  antioxidants; autophagy; obesity; stress