bims-auttor Biomed News
on Autophagy and mTOR
Issue of 2021‒06‒27
forty-six papers selected by
Viktor Korolchuk, Newcastle University

  1. Dev Cell. 2021 Jun 24. pii: S1534-5807(21)00481-0. [Epub ahead of print]
      Mitochondria are critical metabolic and signaling hubs, and dysregulated mitochondrial homeostasis is implicated in many diseases. Degradation of damaged mitochondria by selective GABARAP/LC3-dependent macro-autophagy (mitophagy) is critical for maintaining mitochondrial homeostasis. To identify alternate forms of mitochondrial quality control that functionally compensate if mitophagy is inactive, we selected for autophagy-dependent cancer cells that survived loss of LC3-dependent autophagosome formation caused by inactivation of ATG7 or RB1CC1/FIP200. We discovered rare surviving autophagy-deficient clones that adapted to maintain mitochondrial homeostasis after gene inactivation and identified two enhanced mechanisms affecting mitochondria including mitochondrial dynamics and mitochondrial-derived vesicles (MDVs). To further understand these mechanisms, we quantified MDVs via flow cytometry and confirmed an SNX9-mediated mechanism necessary for flux of MDVs to lysosomes. We show that the autophagy-dependent cells acquire unique dependencies on these processes, indicating that these alternate forms of mitochondrial homeostasis compensate for loss of autophagy to maintain mitochondrial health.
    Keywords:  ATG7; FIP200; SNX9; autophagy; cancer; late endosomes; mitochondria; mitochondrial dynamics; mitochondrial-derived vesicles; mitophagy
  2. Autophagy. 2021 Jun 24. 1-2
      Cellular stress response mechanisms typically increase organellar quantity and volume. To restore cellular homeostasis and organellar integrity, the surplus organelles are cleared by macroautophagy/autophagy, an intracellular process that shuttles cytoplasmic material to the lysosomes for degradation. The degradation is mediated by autophagy receptors that selectively link the degradable cargo to the autophagy machinery. Studies have identified receptors for the degradation of mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum, lysosomes, and peroxisomes. The autophagic degradation of the Golgi, named Golgiphagy, however, has remained undefined. The Golgi is essential for the processing, sorting and trafficking of proteins and lipids in the secretory pathway. In a recent study, we identified CALCOCO1 as a Golgiphagy receptor in response to nutrient deprivation. CALCOCO1 interacts with Golgi membranes by binding to cytoplasmic Ankyrin repeat (AR) domains of Golgi resident ZDHHC17 and ZDHHC13 palmitoyltransferases (PATs) via a defined zDHHC-AR-binding motif (zDABM) to recruit autophagy machinery. Lack of CALCOCO1 in cells causes an impaired Golgiphagy and expansion of the Golgi.
    Keywords:  Autophagy receptor; CALCOCO1; Golgi; Golgiphagy; Golgiphagy receptor; ZDHHC17; zDABM motif
  3. Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2021 Jun 21.
      Selective autophagy is the lysosomal degradation of specific intracellular components sequestered into autophagosomes, late endosomes, or lysosomes through the activity of selective autophagy receptors (SARs). SARs interact with autophagy-related (ATG)8 family proteins via sequence motifs called LC3-interacting region (LIR) motifs in vertebrates and Atg8-interacting motifs (AIMs) in yeast and plants. SARs can be divided into two broad groups: soluble or membrane bound. Cargo or substrate selection may be independent or dependent of ubiquitin labeling of the cargo. In this review, we discuss mechanisms of mammalian selective autophagy with a focus on the unifying principles employed in substrate recognition, interaction with the forming autophagosome via LIR-ATG8 interactions, and the recruitment of core autophagy components for efficient autophagosome formation on the substrate. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Cell and Developmental Biology, Volume 37 is October 2021. Please see for revised estimates.
  4. EMBO J. 2021 Jun 25. e108777
      Selective autophagy relies on adaptor proteins to bind and transport cargos (or substrates) to the lysosome or vacuole, yet the mechanisms for cargo recognition are not well understood. In this issue, Wang et al (2021) showed that in the fission yeast, Nbr1, a homolog of a mammalian selective autophagy adaptor, recognizes vacuolar hydrolases Ams1 and Ape4 through both versatile and cargo-specific interactions with the Nbr1 ZZ1 domain.
  5. EMBO J. 2021 Jun 25. e107497
      In selective autophagy, cargo selectivity is determined by autophagy receptors. However, it remains scarcely understood how autophagy receptors recognize specific protein cargos. In the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, a selective autophagy pathway termed Nbr1-mediated vacuolar targeting (NVT) employs Nbr1, an autophagy receptor conserved across eukaryotes including humans, to target cytosolic hydrolases into the vacuole. Here, we identify two new NVT cargos, the mannosidase Ams1 and the aminopeptidase Ape4, that bind competitively to the first ZZ domain of Nbr1 (Nbr1-ZZ1). High-resolution cryo-EM analyses reveal how a single ZZ domain recognizes two distinct protein cargos. Nbr1-ZZ1 not only recognizes the N-termini of cargos via a conserved acidic pocket, similar to other characterized ZZ domains, but also engages additional parts of cargos in a cargo-specific manner. Our findings unveil a single-domain bispecific mechanism of autophagy cargo recognition, elucidate its underlying structural basis, and expand the understanding of ZZ domain-mediated protein-protein interactions.
    Keywords:   Schizosaccharomyces pombe ; ZZ domain; autophagy receptor; selective autophagy
  6. Cell Death Differ. 2021 Jun 22.
      During autophagy, the coordinated actions of autophagosomes and lysosomes result in the controlled removal of damaged intracellular organelles and superfluous substrates. The evolutionary conservation of this process and its requirement for maintaining cellular homeostasis emphasizes the need to better dissect the pathways governing its molecular regulation. In our previously performed high-content screen, we assessed the effect of 1530 RNA-binding proteins on autophagy. Among the top regulators, we identified the eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4A-3 (eIF4A3). Here we show that depletion of eIF4A3 leads to a potent increase in autophagosome and lysosome biogenesis and an enhanced autophagic flux. This is mediated by the key autophagy transcription factor, TFEB, which becomes dephosphorylated and translocates from the cytoplasm to the nucleus where it elicits an integrated transcriptional response. We further identified an exon-skipping event in the transcript encoding for the direct TFEB kinase, GSK3B, which leads to a reduction in GSK3B expression and activity. Through analysis of TCGA data, we found a significant upregulation of eIF4A3 expression across several cancer types and confirmed the potential relevance of this newly identified signaling axis in human tumors. Hence, our data suggest a previously unrecognized role for eIF4A3 as a gatekeeper of autophagy through the control of TFEB activation, revealing a new mechanism for autophagy regulation.
  7. Autophagy. 2021 Jun 23. 1-16
      General autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved process in eukaryotes, by which intracellular materials are transported into and degraded inside lysosomes or vacuoles, with the main goal of recycling those materials during periods of starvation. The molecular bases of autophagy have been widely described in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and the specific roles of Atg proteins in the process were first characterized in this model system. Important contributions have been made in Schizosaccharomyces pombe highlighting the evolutionary similarity and, at the same time, diversity of Atg components in autophagy. However, little is known regarding signals, pathways and role of autophagy in this distant yeast. Here, we undertake a global approach to investigate the signals, the pathways and the consequences of autophagy activation. We demonstrate that not only nitrogen but several nutritional deprivations including lack of carbon, sulfur, phosphorus or leucine sources, trigger autophagy, and that the TORC1, TORC2 and MAP kinase Sty1 pathways control the onset of autophagy. Furthermore, we identify an unexpected phenotype of autophagy-defective mutants, namely their inability to survive in the absence of leucine when biosynthesis of this amino acid is impaired.Abbreviations: ATG: autophagy-related; cAMP: cyclic adenosine monophosphate; cDNA: complementary deoxyribonucleic acid; GFP: green fluorescence protein; Gluc: glucose; Leu: leucine; MAP: mitogen-activated protein; MM: minimal medium; PI: propidium iodine; PKA: protein kinase A; RNA: ribonucleic acid; RT-qPCR: real time quantitative polymerase chain reaction; S. cerevisiae: Saccharomyces cerevisiae; S. pombe: Schizosaccharomyces pombe; TCA: trichloroacetic acid; TOR: target of rapamycin; TORC1: target of rapamycin complex 1; TORC2: target of rapamycin complex 2; YE5S: yeast extract 5 amino acid supplemented.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Gfp-Atg8; Sty1; Torc1; Torc2; map kinase; nutrient starvation
  8. Curr Biol. 2021 Jun 15. pii: S0960-9822(21)00750-8. [Epub ahead of print]
      Macroautophagy (hereafter referred to as autophagy) is a conserved process that promotes cellular homeostasis through the degradation of cytosolic components, also known as cargo. During autophagy, cargo is sequestered into double-membrane vesicles called autophagosomes, which are predominantly transported in the retrograde direction to the perinuclear region to fuse with lysosomes, thus ensuring cargo degradation.1 The mechanisms regulating directional autophagosomal transport remain unclear. The ATG8 family of proteins associates with autophagosome membranes2 and plays key roles in autophagy, including the movement of autophagosomes. This is achieved via the association of ATG8 with adaptor proteins like FYCO1, involved in the anterograde transport of autophagosomes toward the cell periphery.1,3-5 We previously reported that phosphorylation of LC3B/ATG8 on threonine 50 (LC3B-T50) by the Hippo kinase STK4/MST1 is required for autophagy through unknown mechanisms.6 Here, we show that STK4-mediated phosphorylation of LC3B-T50 reduces the binding of FYCO1 to LC3B. In turn, impairment of LC3B-T50 phosphorylation decreases starvation-induced perinuclear positioning of autophagosomes as well as their colocalization with lysosomes. Moreover, a significantly higher number of LC3B-T50A-positive autophagosomes undergo aberrant anterograde movement to axonal tips in mammalian neurons and toward the periphery of mammalian cells. Our data support a role of a nutrient-sensitive STK4-LC3B-FYCO1 axis in the regulation of the directional transport of autophagosomes, a key step of the autophagy process, via the post-translational modification of LC3B.
    Keywords:  FYCO1; Hippo kinases; LC3B; STK4; autophagy; starvation; trafficking; vesicle transport
  9. Nat Commun. 2021 06 23. 12(1): 3906
      Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a multifactorial neurodegenerative disorder. Although molecular mechanisms remain elusive, deficits in autophagy have been associated with AMD. Here we show that deficiency of calcium and integrin binding protein 2 (CIB2) in mice, leads to age-related pathologies, including sub-retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) deposits, marked accumulation of drusen markers APOE, C3, Aβ, and esterified cholesterol, and impaired visual function, which can be rescued using exogenous retinoids. Cib2 mutant mice exhibit reduced lysosomal capacity and autophagic clearance, and increased mTORC1 signaling-a negative regulator of autophagy. We observe concordant molecular deficits in dry-AMD RPE/choroid post-mortem human tissues. Mechanistically, CIB2 negatively regulates mTORC1 by preferentially binding to 'nucleotide empty' or inactive GDP-loaded Rheb. Upregulated mTORC1 signaling has been implicated in lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) cancer. Over-expressing CIB2 in LAM patient-derived fibroblasts downregulates hyperactive mTORC1 signaling. Thus, our findings have significant implications for treatment of AMD and other mTORC1 hyperactivity-associated disorders.
  10. Life Sci. 2021 Jun 22. pii: S0024-3205(21)00731-1. [Epub ahead of print] 119745
      The evolutionarily conserved mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) forms two functionally distinct complexes, -the mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) and mTOR complex 2 (mTORC2)-which differ in their subunit composition. Although the function of mTORC1 has been studied extensively, the interaction between mTORC1 and the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) remains unclear. To facilitate a thorough understanding of the mechanismby which UPS regulates mTORC1 activity, steady isotope labeling with amino acids in cell culture (SILAC) technology was used to screen for potential mTORC1-interacting UPS members. Fourteen previously unknown proteins bound to mTOR in HEK293 cells with a SILAC ratio (heavy/light, H/L) above 2, five of which are components of the UPS. Subsequent immunoprecipitation analysis confirmed that ubiquitin-relevant protein 2-like (UBAP2L, also known as NICE-4) binds to both mTOR and Raptor, but not Rictor, suggesting that NICE-4 specifically interacts with mTORC1, but not mTORC2. Interestingly, NICE-4 is essential for basic mTORC1 activity in both HeLa cancer cells and HEK293 cells. In addition, NICE-4 depletion markedly suppressed proliferation of both HeLa and HEK293 cells as well as survival of HeLa cells. Collectively, these results revealed the identity of novel mTOR-interacting UPS proteins and established NICE-4 as a critical UPS member that maintains mTORC1 activity.
    Keywords:  Cancer; HeLa cells; NICE-4; SILAC; Ubiquitin-proteasome system; mTORC1
  11. Mol Aspects Med. 2021 Jun 16. pii: S0098-2997(21)00047-9. [Epub ahead of print] 100987
      The molecular machinery of macroautophagy, a catabolic pathway for cytoplasmic constituent degradation in lysosomes, remodels membranes by lipid phosphorylation and conjugation of LC3 and GABARAP proteins. In recent year it has become clear that these membrane modifications also regulate endo- and exocytosis. Here I will discuss recent evidence of how such non-canonical functions of the macroautophagy machinery with its autophagy related gene (atg) products influences infectious viral particle secretion, inflammation, and MHC restricted antigen presentation. Especially LC3-Associated Phagocytosis and ATG supported exocytosis will be high-lighted during immunity and infection.
    Keywords:  Exocytosis; Inflammation; LC3-Associated phagocytosis (LAP); MHC restricted Antigen presentation; Viral envelope
  12. EMBO J. 2021 Jun 21. e100715
      Clearance of mitochondria following damage is critical for neuronal homeostasis. Here, we investigate the role of Miro proteins in mitochondrial turnover by the PINK1/Parkin mitochondrial quality control system in vitro and in vivo. We find that upon mitochondrial damage, Miro is promiscuously ubiquitinated on multiple lysine residues. Genetic deletion of Miro or block of Miro1 ubiquitination and subsequent degradation lead to delayed translocation of the E3 ubiquitin ligase Parkin onto damaged mitochondria and reduced mitochondrial clearance in both fibroblasts and cultured neurons. Disrupted mitophagy in vivo, upon post-natal knockout of Miro1 in hippocampus and cortex, leads to a dramatic increase in mitofusin levels, the appearance of enlarged and hyperfused mitochondria and hyperactivation of the integrated stress response (ISR). Altogether, our results provide new insights into the central role of Miro1 in the regulation of mitochondrial homeostasis and further implicate Miro1 dysfunction in the pathogenesis of human neurodegenerative disease.
    Keywords:  Parkinson’s disease; Rhot1; Rhot2; eIF2α; megamitochondria
  13. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2021 ;9 664896
      Autophagy, an evolutionarily conserved process, plays an important role in maintaining cellular homeostasis under physiological and pathophysiological conditions. It is widely believed that mitochondria influence the development of disease by regulating cellular metabolism. When challenged by different stimuli, mitochondria may experience morphological disorders and functional abnormalities, leading to a selective form of autophagy-mitophagy, which can clear damaged mitochondria to promote mitochondrial quality control. Sepsis is a complex global problem with multiple organ dysfunction, often accompanied by manifold mitochondrial damage. Recent studies have shown that autophagy can regulate both innate and acquired immune processes to protect against organ dysfunction in sepsis. Sepsis-induced mitochondrial dysfunction may play a pathophysiological role in the initiation and progression of sepsis-induced organ failure. Mitophagy is reported to be beneficial for sepsis by eliminating disabled mitochondria and maintaining homeostasis to protect against organ failure. In this review, we summarize the recent findings and mechanisms of mitophagy and its involvement in septic organ dysfunction as a potential therapeutic target.
    Keywords:  autophagy; mitochondria; mitophagy; organ dysfunction; sepsis
  14. Front Microbiol. 2021 ;12 647410
      Enteroviruses (EVs) usurp the host autophagy pathway for pro-viral functions; however, the consequence of EV-induced diversion of autophagy on organelle quality control is poorly defined. Using coxsackievirus B3 (CVB3) as a model EV, we explored the interplay between EV infection and selective autophagy receptors, i.e., Tax1-binding protein 1/TRAF6-binding protein (T6BP), optineurin (OPTN), and nuclear dot 10 protein 52 (NDP52), known to be involved in regulating the clearance of damaged mitochondria, a process termed as mitophagy. Following CVB3 infection, we showed significant perturbations of the mitochondrial network coincident with degradation of the autophagy receptor protein T6BP, similar phenomenon to what we previously observed on NDP52. Notably, protein levels of OPTN are not altered during early infection and slightly reduced upon late infection. Cell culture studies revealed that T6BP degradation occurs independent of the function of host caspases and viral proteinase 3C, but requires the proteolytic activity of viral proteinase 2A. Further investigation identified the cleavage site on T6BP after the amino acid 621 that separates the C-terminal ubiquitin-binding domain from the other functional domains at the N-terminus. Genetic silencing of T6BP and OPTN results in the attenuation of CVB3 replication, suggesting a pro-viral activity for these two proteins. Finally, functional assessment of cleaved fragments from NDP52 and T6BP revealed abnormal binding affinity and impaired capacity to be recruited to depolarized mitochondria. Collectively, these results suggest that CVB3 targets autophagy receptors to impair selective autophagy.
    Keywords:  TRAF6-binding protein; Tax1-binding protein 1; calcium-binding and coiled-coil domain-containing protein 2/nuclear dot 10 protein 52; coxsackievirus; enterovirus; optineurin; selective autophagy
  15. Autophagy. 2021 Jun 21. 1-17
      Macroautophagy/autophagy-related proteins regulate infectious and inflammatory diseases in autophagy-dependent or -independent manner. However, the role of a newly identified mammalian-specific autophagy protein-BECN2 (beclin 2) in innate immune regulation is largely unknown. Here we showed that loss of BECN2 enhanced the activities of NLRP3, AIM2, NLRP1, and NLRC4 inflammasomes upon ligand stimulations. Mechanistically, BECN2 interacted with inflammasome sensors and mediated their degradation through a ULK1- and ATG9A-dependent, but BECN1-WIPI2-ATG16L1-LC3-independent, non-canonical autophagic pathway. BECN2 recruited inflammasome sensors on ATG9A+ vesicles to form a complex (BECN2-ATG9A-sensors) upon ULK1 activation. Three soluble NSF attachment protein receptor (SNARE) proteins (SEC22A, STX5, and STX6) were further shown to mediate the BECN2-ATG9A-dependent inflammasome sensor degradation. Loss of BECN2 promoted alum-induced peritonitis, which could be rescued by the ablation of CASP1 in Becn2-deficient mice. Hence, BECN2 negatively regulated inflammasome activation to control inflammation, serving as a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of infectious and inflammatory diseases.Abbreviations: AIM2: absent in melanoma 2; ATG: autophagy related; BECN1: beclin 1; BMDC: bone marrow-derived dendritic cells; BMDM: bone marrow-derived macrophages; CASP1: caspase 1; CQ: chloroquine; gMDSC: granulocytic myeloid-derived suppressor cells; IL: interleukin; LPS: lipopolysaccharide; MAP1LC3B: microtubule associated protein 1 light chain 3 beta; mMDSC: monocytic myeloid-derived suppressor cells; NLRC4: NLR family CARD domain containing 4; NLRP1: NLR family pyrin domain containing 1; NLRP3: NLR family pyrin domain containing 3; PECs: peritoneal exudate cells; PYCARD/ASC: apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a caspase activation and recruitment domain; SNAREs: soluble NSF attachment protein receptors; STX5: syntaxin 5; STX6: syntaxin 6; ULK1: unc-51 like autophagy activating kinase 1; WIPI: WD repeat domain, phosphoinositide interacting.
    Keywords:  ATG9A; Alum-induced peritonitis; BECN2; STX5-STX6-SEC22A-mediated membrane fusion; inflammasome; non-canonical autophagy
  16. J Biol Chem. 2021 Jun 16. pii: S0021-9258(21)00684-0. [Epub ahead of print] 100884
      The mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) is often referred to as a master regulator of cellular metabolism that can integrate growth factor and nutrient signaling. Fasting suppresses hepatic mTORC1 activity via the activity of the Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC), a negative regulator of mTORC1, in order to suppress anabolic metabolism. The loss of TSC1 in the liver locks the liver in a constitutively anabolic state even during fasting, which was suggested to regulate PPARα signaling and ketogenesis, but the molecular determinants of this regulation are unknown. Here, we examined if the activation of the mTORC1 complex in mice by the liver-specific deletion of TSC1 (TSC1L-/-) is sufficient to suppress PPARα signaling and therefore ketogenesis in the fasted state. We found that the activation of mTORC1 in the fasted state is not sufficient to repress PPARα-responsive genes or ketogenesis. Further, we examined whether the activation of the anabolic program mediated by mTORC1 complex activation in the fasted state could suppress the robust catabolic programming and enhanced PPARα transcriptional response of mice with a liver-specific defect in mitochondrial long-chain fatty acid oxidation using Cpt2L-/- mice. We generated liver-specific Cpt2L-/-; Tsc1L-/- double knockout mice and showed that the activation of mTORC1 by deletion of TSC1 could not suppress the catabolic PPARα-mediated phenotype of Cpt2L-/- mice. These data demonstrate that the activation of mTORC1 by the deletion of TSC1 is not sufficient to suppress a PPARα transcriptional program or ketogenesis following fasting.
    Keywords:  Ketogenesis; carnitine palmitoyltransferase 2 (Cpt2); fatty acid oxidation; mTOR; metabolism; peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPARα); β-hydroxybutyrate (βHB)
  17. J Biol Chem. 2021 Jun 17. pii: S0021-9258(21)00691-8. [Epub ahead of print] 100891
      Regulation of cellular proliferation and quiescence is a central issue in biology that has been studied using model unicellular eukaryotes, such as the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe. We previously reported that the ubiquitin/proteasome pathway and autophagy are essential to maintain quiescence induced by nitrogen deprivation in S. pombe; however, specific ubiquitin ligases that maintain quiescence are not fully understood. Here we investigated the SPX-RING type ubiquitin ligase Pqr1, identified as required for quiescence in a genetic screen. Pqr1 is found to be crucial for vacuolar proteolysis, the final step of autophagy, through proper regulation of phosphate and its polymer polyphosphate. Pqr1 restricts phosphate uptake into the cell through ubiquitination and subsequent degradation of phosphate transporters on plasma membranes. We hypothesized that Pqr1 may act as the central regulator for phosphate control in S. pombe, through the function of the SPX domain involved in phosphate sensing. Deletion of pqr1+ resulted in hyper-accumulation of intracellular phosphate and polyphosphate, and in improper autophagy-dependent proteolysis under conditions of nitrogen starvation. Polyphosphate hyper-accumulation in pqr1+-deficient cells was mediated by the polyphosphate synthase VTC complex in vacuoles. Simultaneous deletion of VTC complex subunits rescued Pqr1 mutant phenotypes, including defects in proteolysis and loss of viability during quiescence. We conclude that excess polyphosphate may interfere with proteolysis in vacuoles by mechanisms that as yet remain unknown. The present results demonstrate a connection between polyphosphate metabolism and vacuolar functions for proper autophagy-dependent proteolysis, and we propose that polyphosphate homeostasis contributes to maintenance of cellular viability during quiescence.
    Keywords:  autophagy; cell cycle; fission yeast; life span; polyphosphate; vacuole
  18. Cell Mol Biol Lett. 2021 Jun 24. 26(1): 29
      Activation of autophagy is part of the innate immune response during viral infections. Autophagy involves the sequestration of endogenous or foreign components from the cytosol within double-membraned vesicles and the delivery of their content to the lysosomes for degradation. As part of innate immune responses, this autophagic elimination of foreign components is selective and requires specialized cargo receptors that function as links between a tagged foreign component and the autophagic machinery. Pathogens have evolved ways to evade their autophagic degradation to promote their replication, and recent research has shown autophagic receptors to be an important and perhaps previously overlooked target of viral autophagy inhibition. This is a brief summary of the recent progress in knowledge of virus-host interaction in the context of autophagy receptors.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Cargo; Infection; Receptor; Viruses; Xenophagy
  19. EMBO J. 2021 Jun 22. e108050
      Selective autophagy mediates specific degradation of unwanted cytoplasmic components to maintain cellular homeostasis. The suppressor of gene silencing 3 (SGS3) and RNA-dependent RNA polymerase 6 (RDR6)-formed bodies (SGS3/RDR6 bodies) are essential for siRNA amplification in planta. However, whether autophagy receptors regulate selective turnover of SGS3/RDR6 bodies is unknown. By analyzing the transcriptomic response to virus infection in Arabidopsis, we identified a virus-induced small peptide 1 (VISP1) composed of 71 amino acids, which harbor a ubiquitin-interacting motif that mediates interaction with autophagy-related protein 8. Overexpression of VISP1 induced selective autophagy and compromised antiviral immunity by inhibiting SGS3/RDR6-dependent viral siRNA amplification, whereas visp1 mutants exhibited opposite effects. Biochemistry assays demonstrate that VISP1 interacted with SGS3 and mediated autophagic degradation of SGS3/RDR6 bodies. Further analyses revealed that overexpression of VISP1, mimicking the sgs3 mutant, impaired biogenesis of endogenous trans-acting siRNAs and up-regulated their targets. Collectively, we propose that VISP1 is a small peptide receptor functioning in the crosstalk between selective autophagy and RNA silencing.
    Keywords:  RNA silencing; SGS3; autophagy; peptide; plant virus
  20. Trends Biochem Sci. 2021 Jun 19. pii: S0968-0004(21)00122-5. [Epub ahead of print]
      ATG8 are core autophagy proteins, the lipidated forms of which decorate double-membraned autophagosomes, as well as single-membraned organelles such as endolysosomes. Recent studies from the Florey and Münz laboratories delineate the status of single membrane-associated ATG8 proteins by indicating that their membrane anchoring can involve phosphatidylserine conjugation and their stabilization depends on ATG4 protease inhibition.
    Keywords:  ATG4 proteases; ATG8 proteins; aminoglycerophospholipids; lipidation; noncanonical autophagy; oxidation
  21. Cell Death Dis. 2021 Jun 19. 12(7): 632
      Dysregulation of the PINK1/Parkin-mediated mitophagy is essential to Parkinson's disease. Although important progress has been made in previous researches, the biochemical reagents that induce global and significant mitochondrial damage may still hinder deeper insights into the mechanisms of mitophagy. The origin of PINK1/Parkin pathway activation in mitophagy remains elusive. In this study, we develop an optical method, ultra-precise laser stimulation (UPLaS) that delivers a precise and noninvasive stimulation onto a submicron region in a single mitochondrial tubular structure. UPLaS excites localized mitochondrial Ca2+ (mitoCa2+) oscillations with tiny perturbation to mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) or mitochondrial reactive oxygen species. The UPLaS-induced mitoCa2+ oscillations can directly induce PINK1 accumulation and Parkin recruitment on mitochondria. The Parkin recruitment by UPLaS requires PINK1. Our results provide a precise and noninvasive technology for research on mitophagy, which stimulates target mitochondria with little damage, and reveal mitoCa2+ oscillation directly initiates the PINK1-Parkin pathway for mitophagy without MMP depolarization.
  22. Structure. 2021 Jun 19. pii: S0969-2126(21)00207-0. [Epub ahead of print]
      Transient receptor potential mucolipin 1 (TRPML1) regulates lysosomal calcium signaling, lipid trafficking, and autophagy-related processes. This channel is regulated by phosphoinositides and the low pH environment of the lysosome, maintaining calcium levels essential for proper lysosomal function. Recently, several small molecules specifically targeting the TRPML family have been demonstrated to modulate channel activity. One of these, a synthetic antagonist ML-SI3, can prevent lysosomal calcium efflux and has been reported to block downstream TRPML1-mediated induction of autophagy. Here, we report a cryo-electron microscopy structure of human TRPML1 with ML-SI3 at 2.9-Å resolution. ML-SI3 binds to the hydrophobic cavity created by S5, S6, and PH1, the same cavity where the synthetic agonist ML-SA1 binds. Electrophysiological characterizations show that ML-SI3 can compete with ML-SA1, blocking channel activation yet does not inhibit PI(3,5)P2-dependent activation of the channel. Consequently, this work provides molecular insight into how ML-SI3 and native lipids regulate TRPML1 activity.
    Keywords:  ML-SI3; PIP2; TRPML1; cryo-EM; electrophysiology
  23. Nat Commun. 2021 06 21. 12(1): 3818
      Viruses manipulate cellular metabolism and macromolecule recycling processes like autophagy. Dysregulated metabolism might lead to excessive inflammatory and autoimmune responses as observed in severe and long COVID-19 patients. Here we show that SARS-CoV-2 modulates cellular metabolism and reduces autophagy. Accordingly, compound-driven induction of autophagy limits SARS-CoV-2 propagation. In detail, SARS-CoV-2-infected cells show accumulation of key metabolites, activation of autophagy inhibitors (AKT1, SKP2) and reduction of proteins responsible for autophagy initiation (AMPK, TSC2, ULK1), membrane nucleation, and phagophore formation (BECN1, VPS34, ATG14), as well as autophagosome-lysosome fusion (BECN1, ATG14 oligomers). Consequently, phagophore-incorporated autophagy markers LC3B-II and P62 accumulate, which we confirm in a hamster model and lung samples of COVID-19 patients. Single-nucleus and single-cell sequencing of patient-derived lung and mucosal samples show differential transcriptional regulation of autophagy and immune genes depending on cell type, disease duration, and SARS-CoV-2 replication levels. Targeting of autophagic pathways by exogenous administration of the polyamines spermidine and spermine, the selective AKT1 inhibitor MK-2206, and the BECN1-stabilizing anthelmintic drug niclosamide inhibit SARS-CoV-2 propagation in vitro with IC50 values of 136.7, 7.67, 0.11, and 0.13 μM, respectively. Autophagy-inducing compounds reduce SARS-CoV-2 propagation in primary human lung cells and intestinal organoids emphasizing their potential as treatment options against COVID-19.
  24. Cell Chem Biol. 2021 Jun 12. pii: S2451-9456(21)00261-0. [Epub ahead of print]
      Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is a gasotransmitter with broad physiological activities, including protecting cells against stress, but little is known about the regulation of cellular H2S homeostasis. We have performed a high-content small-molecule screen and identified genotoxic agents, including cancer chemotherapy drugs, as activators of intracellular H2S levels. DNA damage-induced H2S in vitro and in vivo. Mechanistically, DNA damage elevated autophagy and upregulated H2S-generating enzyme CGL; chemical or genetic disruption of autophagy or CGL impaired H2S induction. Importantly, exogenous H2S partially rescued autophagy-deficient cells from genotoxic stress. Furthermore, stressors that are not primarily genotoxic (growth factor depletion and mitochondrial uncoupler FCCP) increased intracellular H2S in an autophagy-dependent manner. Our findings highlight the role of autophagy in H2S production and suggest that H2S generation may be a common adaptive response to DNA damage and other stressors.
    Keywords:  CGL enzyme; DNA damage response; P3 probe; SF7-AM probe; autophagy; cancer chemotherapy; high-throughput screening; hydrogen sulfide; stress response; sulfide metabolism
  25. Nat Chem Biol. 2021 Jun 24.
      The clinical benefits of pan-mTOR active-site inhibitors are limited by toxicity and relief of feedback inhibition of receptor expression. To address these limitations, we designed a series of compounds that selectively inhibit mTORC1 and not mTORC2. These 'bi-steric inhibitors' comprise a rapamycin-like core moiety covalently linked to an mTOR active-site inhibitor. Structural modification of these components modulated their affinities for their binding sites on mTOR and the selectivity of the bi-steric compound. mTORC1-selective compounds potently inhibited 4EBP1 phosphorylation and caused regressions of breast cancer xenografts. Inhibition of 4EBP1 phosphorylation was sufficient to block cancer cell growth and was necessary for maximal antitumor activity. At mTORC1-selective doses, these compounds do not alter glucose tolerance, nor do they relieve AKT-dependent feedback inhibition of HER3. Thus, in preclinical models, selective inhibitors of mTORC1 potently inhibit tumor growth while causing less toxicity and receptor reactivation as compared to pan-mTOR inhibitors.
  26. Chem Sci. 2021 Mar 19. 12(16): 5834-5842
      Autophagy and endocytosis are essential in regulating cellular homeostasis and cancer immunotherapeutic responses. Existing methods for autophagy and endocytosis imaging are susceptible to cellular micro-environmental changes, and direct fluorogenic visualization of their fluxes remains challenging. We develop a novel strategy via clicking of organelle-enriched probes (COP), which comprises a pair of trans-cyclooctenol (TCO) and tetrazine probes separately enriched in lysosomes and mitochondria (in autophagy) or plasma membrane (in endocytosis). These paired probes are merged and boost a fluorogenic click reaction in response to autophagic or endocytic flux that ultimately fuses mitochondria or plasma membrane into lysosomes. We demonstrate that this strategy enables direct visualization of autophagic and endocytic fluxes, and confer insight into correlation of autophagic or endocytic flux to cell surface expression of immunotherapeutic targets such as MHC-I and PD-L1. The COP strategy provides a new paradigm for imaging autophagic and endocytic fluxes, and affords potential for improved cancer immunotherapy using autophagy or endocytosis inhibitors.
  27. Prog Neurobiol. 2021 Jun 22. pii: S0301-0082(21)00126-X. [Epub ahead of print] 102112
      As a major eukaryotic cell clearing machinery, autophagy grants cell proteostasis, which is key for neurotransmitter release, synaptic plasticity, and neuronal survival. In line with this, besides neuropathological events, autophagy dysfunctions are bound to synaptic alterations that occur in mental disorders, and early on, in neurodegenerative diseases. This is also the case of methamphetamine (METH) abuse, which leads to psychiatric disturbances and neurotoxicity. While consistently altering the autophagy machinery, METH produces behavioral and neurotoxic effects through molecular and biochemical events that can be recapitulated by autophagy blockade. These consist of altered physiological dopamine (DA) release, abnormal stimulation of DA and glutamate receptors, as well as oxidative, excitotoxic, and neuroinflammatory events. Recent molecular insights suggest that METH early impairs the autophagy machinery, though its functional significance remains to be investigated. Here we discuss evidence suggesting that alterations of DA transmission and autophagy are intermingled within a chain of events underlying behavioral alterations and neurodegenerative phenomena produced by METH. Understanding how METH alters the autophagy machinery is expected to provide novel insights into the neurobiology of METH addiction sharing some features with psychiatric disorders and parkinsonism.
    Keywords:  Addiction; CDK5; Dopamine; GSK3-β; LC3; PKC; Parkinsonism; Psychosis; mTOR
  28. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2021 ;9 684885
      p62/SQSTM1 (sequestosome-1) is a key protein involved in multiple cellular bioprocesses including autophagy, nutrient sensing, cell growth, cell death, and survival. Therefore, it is implicated in human diseases such as obesity and cancer. Here, we show that the CUL5-ASB6 complex is a ubiquitin E3 ligase complex mediating p62 ubiquitination and degradation. Depletion of CUL5 or ASB6 induced p62 accumulation, and overexpression of ASB6 promoted ubiquitination and degradation of p62. Functionally, ASB6 overexpression can inhibit the proliferation of MEF and hepatocellular carcinoma cells by reducing p62 protein level, and impair the occurrence of autophagy. Overall, our study identified a new molecular mechanism regulating p62 stability, which may provide additional insights for understanding the delicate control of p62 and cell proliferation-autophagy control in physiological and pathological settings.
    Keywords:  ASB6; CUL5; autophagy; p62; proliferation; ubiquitination
  29. Nat Commun. 2021 06 22. 12(1): 3835
      Transcription restart after a genotoxic challenge is a fundamental yet poorly understood process. Here, we dissect the interplay between transcription and chromatin restoration after DNA damage by focusing on the human histone chaperone complex HIRA, which is required for transcription recovery post UV. We demonstrate that HIRA is recruited to UV-damaged chromatin via the ubiquitin-dependent segregase VCP to deposit new H3.3 histones. However, this local activity of HIRA is dispensable for transcription recovery. Instead, we reveal a genome-wide function of HIRA in transcription restart that is independent of new H3.3 and not restricted to UV-damaged loci. HIRA coordinates with ASF1B to control transcription restart by two independent pathways: by stabilising the associated subunit UBN2 and by reducing the expression of the transcription repressor ATF3. Thus, HIRA primes UV-damaged chromatin for transcription restart at least in part by relieving transcription inhibition rather than by depositing new H3.3 as an activating bookmark.
  30. Mol Cancer Res. 2021 Jun 22. pii: molcanres.0146.2021. [Epub ahead of print]
      Pro-senescence therapies are increasingly being considered for the treatment of cancer. Identifying additional targets to induce senescence in cancer cells could further enable such therapies. However, screening for targets whose suppression induces senescence on a genome-wide scale is challenging, as senescent cells become growth arrested, and senescence-associated features can take 1-2 weeks to develop. For a screen with a whole-genome CRISPR library, this would result in billions of undesirable proliferating cells by the time the senescent features emerge in the growth arrested cells. Here, we present a suicide switch system that allows genome-wide CRISPR screening in growth-arrested subpopulations by eliminating the proliferating cells during the screen through activation of a suicide switch in proliferating cells. Using this system, we identify in a genome-scale CRISPR screen several autophagy related proteins as targets for senescence induction. We show that inhibiting macroautophagy with a small molecule ULK1 inhibitor can induce senescence in cancer cell lines of different origin. Finally, we show that combining ULK1 inhibition with the senolytic drug ABT-263 leads to apoptosis in a panel of cancer cell lines. Implications: Our suicide switch approach allows for genome-scale identification of pro-senescence targets, and can be adapted to simplify other screens depending on the nature of the promoter used to drive the switch.
  31. EMBO J. 2021 Jun 21. e107240
      Efficient degradation of by-products of protein biogenesis maintains cellular fitness. Strikingly, the major biosynthetic compartment in eukaryotic cells, the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), lacks degradative machineries. Misfolded proteins in the ER are translocated to the cytosol for proteasomal degradation via ER-associated degradation (ERAD). Alternatively, they are segregated in ER subdomains that are shed from the biosynthetic compartment and are delivered to endolysosomes under control of ER-phagy receptors for ER-to-lysosome-associated degradation (ERLAD). Demannosylation of N-linked oligosaccharides targets terminally misfolded proteins for ERAD. How misfolded proteins are eventually marked for ERLAD is not known. Here, we show for ATZ and mutant Pro-collagen that cycles of de-/re-glucosylation of selected N-glycans and persistent association with Calnexin (CNX) are required and sufficient to mark ERAD-resistant misfolded proteins for FAM134B-driven lysosomal delivery. In summary, we show that mannose and glucose processing of N-glycans are triggering events that target misfolded proteins in the ER to proteasomal (ERAD) and lysosomal (ERLAD) clearance, respectively, regulating protein quality control in eukaryotic cells.
    Keywords:  ER-phagy; ERAD; ERLAD; N-glycan processing; Protein quality control
  32. Trends Cell Biol. 2021 Jun 16. pii: S0962-8924(21)00099-4. [Epub ahead of print]
      Precise distribution of proteins is essential to sustain the viability of cells. A complex network of protein synthesis and targeting factors cooperate with protein quality control systems to ensure protein homeostasis. Defective proteins are inevitably degraded by the ubiquitin-proteasome system and lysosomes. However, due to overlapping targeting information and limited targeting fidelity, certain proteins become mislocalized. In this review, we present the idea that transmembrane dislocases recognize and remove mislocalized membrane proteins from cellular organelles. This enables other targeting attempts and prevents degradation of mislocalized but otherwise functional proteins. These transmembrane dislocases can be found in the outer mitochondrial membrane (OMM) and endoplasmic reticulum (ER). We highlight common principles regarding client recognition and outline open questions in our understanding of transmembrane dislocases.
    Keywords:  AAA-ATPase Msp1/ATAD1/Thorase; ER-associated degradation; P5-type ATPase Spf1/ATP13A1; mitochondrial protein quality control; protein homeostasis; protein quality control
  33. Sci Rep. 2021 Jun 22. 11(1): 13037
      Exacerbations of muco-obstructive airway diseases such as COPD and asthma are associated with epithelial changes termed mucous metaplasia (MM). Many molecular pathways triggering MM have been identified; however, the factors that regulate resolution are less well understood. We hypothesized that the autophagy pathway is required for resolution of MM by eliminating excess non-secreted intracellular mucin granules. We found increased intracellular levels of mucins Muc5ac and Muc5b in mice deficient in autophagy regulatory protein, Atg16L1, and that this difference was not due to defects in the known baseline or stimulated mucin secretion pathways. Instead, we found that, in mucous secretory cells, Lc3/Lamp1 vesicles colocalized with mucin granules particularly adjacent to the nucleus, suggesting that some granules were being eliminated in the autophagy pathway rather than secreted. Using a mouse model of MM resolution, we found increased lysosomal proteolytic activity that peaked in the days after mucin production began to decline. In purified lysosomal fractions, Atg16L1-deficient mice had reduced proteolytic degradation of Lc3 and Sqstm1 and persistent accumulation of mucin granules associated with impaired resolution of mucous metaplasia. In normal and COPD derived human airway epithelial cells (AECs), activation of autophagy by mTOR inhibition led to a reduction of intracellular mucin granules in AECs. Our findings indicate that during peak and resolution phases of MM, autophagy activity rather than secretion is required for elimination of some remaining mucin granules. Manipulation of autophagy activation offers a therapeutic target to speed resolution of MM in airway disease exacerbations.
  34. N Engl J Med. 2021 Jun 24. 384(25): 2449-2450
  35. Front Aging Neurosci. 2021 ;13 691881
      Parkinson's disease (PD) is the most common neurodegenerative movement disorder, and it is characterized by the selective loss of dopaminergic (DA) neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc), as well as the presence of intracellular inclusions with α-synuclein as the main component in surviving DA neurons. Emerging evidence suggests that the imbalance of proteostasis is a key pathogenic factor for PD. Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress-induced unfolded protein response (UPR) and autophagy, two major pathways for maintaining proteostasis, play important roles in PD pathology and are considered as attractive therapeutic targets for PD treatment. However, although ER stress/UPR and autophagy appear to be independent cellular processes, they are closely related to each other. In this review, we focused on the roles and molecular cross-links between ER stress/UPR and autophagy in PD pathology. We systematically reviewed and summarized the most recent advances in regulation of ER stress/UPR and autophagy, and their cross-linking mechanisms. We also reviewed and discussed the mechanisms of the coexisting ER stress/UPR activation and dysregulated autophagy in the lesion regions of PD patients, and the underlying roles and molecular crosslinks between ER stress/UPR activation and the dysregulated autophagy in DA neurodegeneration induced by PD-associated genetic factors and PD-related neurotoxins. Finally, we indicate that the combined regulation of ER stress/UPR and autophagy would be a more effective treatment for PD rather than regulating one of these conditions alone.
    Keywords:  ER stress; Parkinson’s disease; UPR; autophagy; cross-link; α-synuclein
  36. J Bone Miner Res. 2021 Jun 22.
      Tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated factors (TRAFs) are crucial for receptor activator of nuclear factor-κB (RANK) activation in osteoclasts. However, the upstream mechanisms of TRAF members in the osteoclastic lineage remain largely unknown. Here, we demonstrated that Rictor, a key component of mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 2 (mTORC2), was crucial for TRAF6/TRAF3 expression in osteoclasts. Our ex vivo and in vivo studies showed that Rictor ablation from the osteoclastic lineage reduced osteoclast numbers and increased bone mass in mice. Mechanistically, we found that Rictor ablation restricted osteoclast formation which disrupted TRAF6 stability and caused autophagy block in a manner distinct from mTORC1, resulting in reduced TRAF3 degradation. Boosting TRAF6 expression or knockdown of TRAF3 levels in Rictor-deficient cells could both overcome the defect. Moreover, Rictor could interact with TRAF6 upon RANKL stimulation and loss of Rictor impaired TRAF6 stability and promoted its ubiquitinated degradation. These findings established an innovative link between Rictor, TRAF protein levels and autophagic block. More importantly, mTOR complexes in the osteoclastic lineage are likely switches for coordinating TRAF6 and TRAF3 protein levels, and Rictor may function as an essential upstream regulator of TRAF6/TRAF3 that is partially independent of mTORC1 activity. Inhibitors targeting Rictor may therefore be valuable for preventing or treating osteoclast-related diseases.
    Keywords:  Rictor; TRAF3; TRAF6; autophagic flux; osteoclast
  37. N Engl J Med. 2021 Jun 24. 384(25): 2406-2417
      BACKGROUND: Autophagy is the major intracellular degradation route in mammalian cells. Systemic ablation of core autophagy-related (ATG) genes in mice leads to embryonic or perinatal lethality, and conditional models show neurodegeneration. Impaired autophagy has been associated with a range of complex human diseases, yet congenital autophagy disorders are rare.METHODS: We performed a genetic, clinical, and neuroimaging analysis involving five families. Mechanistic investigations were conducted with the use of patient-derived fibroblasts, skeletal muscle-biopsy specimens, mouse embryonic fibroblasts, and yeast.
    RESULTS: We found deleterious, recessive variants in human ATG7, a core autophagy-related gene encoding a protein that is indispensable to classical degradative autophagy. Twelve patients from five families with distinct ATG7 variants had complex neurodevelopmental disorders with brain, muscle, and endocrine involvement. Patients had abnormalities of the cerebellum and corpus callosum and various degrees of facial dysmorphism. These patients have survived with impaired autophagic flux arising from a diminishment or absence of ATG7 protein. Although autophagic sequestration was markedly reduced, evidence of basal autophagy was readily identified in fibroblasts and skeletal muscle with loss of ATG7. Complementation of different model systems by deleterious ATG7 variants resulted in poor or absent autophagic function as compared with the reintroduction of wild-type ATG7.
    CONCLUSIONS: We identified several patients with a neurodevelopmental disorder who have survived with a severe loss or complete absence of ATG7, an essential effector enzyme for autophagy without a known functional paralogue. (Funded by the Wellcome Centre for Mitochondrial Research and others.).
  38. Autophagy. 2021 Jun 22. 1-2
      AMBRA1 (autophagy/beclin 1 regulator 1) is a multifunctional scaffold protein involved in several cellular processes spanning from cell proliferation to apoptosis and to regulation of macroautophagy/autophagy. Our recent publication revealed that Ambra1 has an antitumorigenic role in melanoma, the most aggressive and deadly skin cancer. We have indeed collected data indicating that the increased proliferative and invasive/metastatic features that we observed in ambra1-ablated melanomas are related to a remarkable regulation by Ambra1 on cellular processes which are beyond autophagy. Our study therefore sheds light on intriguing processes affected by Ambra1 which can be exploited as therapeutic targets in AMBRA1 low-expressing melanoma.
    Keywords:  AMBRA1; FAK1; GEMMs; cyclin D1; melanoma; metastasis; proliferation
  39. Dis Model Mech. 2021 Jun 23. pii: dmm.048997. [Epub ahead of print]
      The vacuolar type H+-ATPase (V-ATPase) is a ubiquitous membrane-bound, multi-subunit proton pump that regulates pH of cellular compartments. V-ATPase activity is known to modulate several cellular processes, but cell type-specific V-ATPase functions remain poorly understood. Patients with mutations in specific V-ATPase subunits can develop sensorineural deafness, but underlying mechanisms are unclear. Here, we show that V-ATPase mutations disrupt formation of zebrafish neuromasts, which serve as a model system to investigate the underpinnings of hearing loss. Neuromasts consist of support cells surrounding mechanosensory hair cells that function similarly to hair cells in the mammalian inner ear. In V-ATPase mutant zebrafish embryos, neuromasts are small, malformed, and contain pyknotic nuclei that denote dying cells. Using molecular markers and live imaging, we find that loss of V-ATPase induces hair cells, but not neighboring support cells, to undergo caspase-independent necrosis-like cell death. This is the first demonstration that loss of V-ATPase can lead to necrosis-like cell death in a specific cell type in vivo. Mechanistically, loss of V-ATPase reduces mitochondrial membrane potential in hair cells, which has previously been associated with necrotic cell death. Modulating the mitochondrial permeability transition pore, which regulates mitochondrial membrane potential, improves hair cell survival. These results have implications for understanding causes of sensorineural deafness, and more broadly, reveal functions for V-ATPase in regulating mitochondrial function and promoting survival of a specific cell type in vivo.
    Keywords:  Mitochondrial membrane potential; Necrosis-like cell death; Neuromast hair cell; Vacuolar type H+-ATPase (V-ATPase); Zebrafish
  40. Eur J Pharmacol. 2021 Jun 17. pii: S0014-2999(21)00415-5. [Epub ahead of print]907 174262
      Parkinson's disease (PD) is the prevalent neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the degeneration of the nigrostriatal neurons. Dynamin-related protein 1 (Drp1) is a key regulator mediating mitochondrial fission and affecting mitophagy in neurons. It has been reported that the inhibition of Drp1 may be beneficial to PD. However, the role of Drp1 and mitophagy in PD remains elusive. Therefore, in this research, we investigated the role of Drp1 and the underlying mechanisms in the mice model of PD. We used the dynasore, a GTPase inhibitor, to inhibit the expression of Drp1. We found that inhibition of Drp1 could ameliorate the motor deficits and the expression of tyrosine hydroxylase in the mice of the PD model. But Drp1 inhibition did not affect mitochondria number and morphological parameters. Moreover, suppression of Drp1 up-regulated the mitochondrial expressions of PINK1 and Parkin while not affected the expressions of NIX and BNIP3. Conclusively, our findings suggest that the inhibition of Drp1 ameliorated the mitochondrial ultrastructure at least via regulating PINK1 and Parkin in the mice of the PD model. This study also implicates that inhibition of Drp1 might impact mitophagy and recover mitochondrial homeostasis in PD.
    Keywords:  Dynamin-related protein 1; Dynasore; Mitochondria; Mitophagy; Parkinson's disease
  41. Bioorg Chem. 2021 Jun 12. pii: S0045-2068(21)00469-7. [Epub ahead of print]114 105092
      A collection of 9050 natural products, their derivatives, and mimetics, was virtually screened against the human Atg3-Atg8 (Atg - autophagy) binding scaffold. By blocking this interaction, the lipidation of Atg8 does not occur and the formation of autophagosomes is inhibited. Forty-three (43) potential ligands were tested using enhanced Green Fluorescent Protein (eGFP) tagged LC3, the human ortholog of Atg8, in MCF7 breast cancer cells. Three hits showed single digit µM IC50 values with AT110, an isoflavone derivative, being the best at 1.2 ± 0.6 µM. Molecular modelling against Atg8 in conjunction with structural activity relationship (SAR) strongly supports the binding to this target. Testing in a panel of cancer cell lines showed little cytotoxic effect as compared to chloroquine. However, same concentration of AT110 was shown to be toxic to young zebrafish embryos. This can be explained in terms of the autophagy process being very active in the zebrafish embryos rendering them susceptible to AT110 whereas in the cancer cells tested the autophagy is not usually active. Nevertheless, AT110 blocks autophagy flux in the zebrafish confirming that the ligand is modulating autophagy. A small molecule non-cytotoxic autophagy inhibitor would open the door for adjunct therapies to bolster many established anticancer drugs, reducing their efficacious concentration thus limiting undesirable site effects. In addition, since many cancer types rely on the autophagy mechanism to survive a therapeutic regime, recurrence can potentially be reduced. The discovery of AT110 is an important step in establishing such an adjunct therapy.
    Keywords:  Chemical space; Enhanced Green Fluorescent Protein (eGFP); Isoflavone; Molecular modelling; Preliminary Structural Activity Relationship (SAR); Zebrafish embryo
  42. Cell Rep. 2021 Jun 22. pii: S2211-1247(21)00644-6. [Epub ahead of print]35(12): 109277
      The activity of the SMN complex in promoting the assembly of pre-mRNA processing UsnRNPs correlates with condensation of the complex in nuclear Cajal bodies. While mechanistic details of its activity have been elucidated, the molecular basis for condensation remains unclear. High SMN complex phosphorylation suggests extensive regulation. Here, we report on systematic siRNA-based screening for modulators of the capacity of SMN to condense in Cajal bodies and identify mTOR and ribosomal protein S6 kinase β-1 as key regulators. Proteomic analysis reveals TOR-dependent phosphorylations in SMN complex subunits. Using stably expressed or optogenetically controlled phospho mutants, we demonstrate that serine 49 and 63 phosphorylation of human SMN controls the capacity of the complex to condense in Cajal bodies via liquid-liquid phase separation. Our findings link SMN complex condensation and UsnRNP biogenesis to cellular energy levels and suggest modulation of TOR signaling as a rational concept for therapy of the SMN-linked neuromuscular disorder spinal muscular atrophy.
    Keywords:  Cajal body; LLPS; SMA; SMN; assembly of ribonucleoprotein complexes; mTOR; optogenetics; phase separation; ribosomal protein S6-kinase β-1 (RPS6KB1); snRNP
  43. Dev Dyn. 2021 Jun 20.
      BACKGROUND: The coordinated wiring of neurons, glia and endothelial cells into neurovascular units is critical for central nervous system development. This is best exemplified in the mammalian retina where interneurons, astrocytes and retinal ganglion cells sculpt their vascular environment to meet the metabolic demands of visual function. Identifying the molecular networks that underlie neurovascular unit formation is an important step towards a deeper understanding of nervous system development and function.RESULTS: Here, we report that cell-to-cell mTORC1-signaling is essential for neurovascular unit formation during mouse retinal development. Using a conditional knockout approach we demonstrate that reduced mTORC1 activity in asymmetrically positioned retinal ganglion cells induces a delay in postnatal vascular network formation in addition to the production of rudimentary and tortuous vessel networks in adult animals. The severity of this vascular phenotype is directly correlated to the degree of mTORC1 down regulation within the neighboring retinal ganglion cell population.
    CONCLUSIONS: This study establishes a cell nonautonomous role for mTORC1-signaling during retinal development. These findings contribute to our current understanding of neurovascular unit formation and demonstrate how ganglion cells actively sculpt their local environment to ensure that the retina is perfused with an appropriate supply of oxygen and nutrients.
    Keywords:  Raptor; endothelial cells; mTORC1; retinal ganglion cells; vascular retinopathy
  44. Mol Pharmacol. 2021 Jun 21. pii: MOLPHARM-MR-2021-000310. [Epub ahead of print]
      The family of AGC kinases not only regulate cellular biology by phosphorylating substrates, but are themselves controlled by phosphorylation. Phosphorylation generally occurs at two conserved regions in these kinases: a loop near the entrance to the active site, termed the activation loop, that correctly aligns residues for catalysis, and a C-terminal tail whose phosphorylation at a site termed the hydrophobic motif stabilizes the active conformation. Whereas phosphorylation of the activation loop is well established to be catalyzed by the phosphoinositide-dependent kinase 1 (PDK1), the mechanism of phosphorylation of the C-tail hydrophobic motif has been controversial. For a subset of AGC kinases, which includes most protein kinase C (PKC) isozymes and Akt, phosphorylation of the hydrophobic motif in cells was shown to depend on mTORC2 over 15 years ago, yet whether by direct phosphorylation or by another mechanism has remained elusive. The recent identification of a novel and evolutionarily conserved phosphorylation site on the C-tail termed the TOR-Interaction Motif (TIM) has finally unraveled the mystery of how mTORC2 regulates its client kinases. mTORC2 does not directly phosphorylate the hydrophobic motif, rather it converts kinases such as PKC and Akt into a conformation that can ultimately autophosphorylate at the hydrophobic motif. Identification of the direct mTOR phosphorylation that facilitates auto-regulation of the C-tail hydrophobic motif revises the activation mechanisms of mTOR-regulated AGC kinases. This new twist to an old tail opens avenues for therapeutic intervention. Significance Statement The enzyme mTORC2 has been an enigmatic regulator of AGC kinases such as protein kinase C (PKC) and Akt. The recent discovery of a motif named the TOR Interaction Motif in the C-tail of these kinases solves the mystery: mTORC2 marks these kinases for maturity by, ultimately, facilitating autophosphorylation another C-tail site, the hydrophobic motif.
    Keywords:  AKT; Protein Kinase C (PKC); mTOR
  45. Nat Commun. 2021 06 24. 12(1): 3928
      The thrombospondin (Thbs) family of secreted matricellular proteins are stress- and injury-induced mediators of cellular attachment dynamics and extracellular matrix protein production. Here we show that Thbs1, but not Thbs2, Thbs3 or Thbs4, induces lethal cardiac atrophy when overexpressed. Mechanistically, Thbs1 binds and activates the endoplasmic reticulum stress effector PERK, inducing its downstream transcription factor ATF4 and causing lethal autophagy-mediated cardiac atrophy. Antithetically, Thbs1-/- mice develop greater cardiac hypertrophy with pressure overload stimulation and show reduced fasting-induced atrophy. Deletion of Thbs1 effectors/receptors, including ATF6α, CD36 or CD47 does not diminish Thbs1-dependent cardiac atrophy. However, deletion of the gene encoding PERK in Thbs1 transgenic mice blunts the induction of ATF4 and autophagy, and largely corrects the lethal cardiac atrophy. Finally, overexpression of PERK or ATF4 using AAV9 gene-transfer similarly promotes cardiac atrophy and lethality. Hence, we identified Thbs1-mediated PERK-eIF2α-ATF4-induced autophagy as a critical regulator of cardiomyocyte size in the stressed heart.
  46. J Parkinsons Dis. 2021 Jun 14.
      Recent data support an involvement of defects in homeostasis of phosphoinositides (PIPs) in the pathophysiology of Parkinson's disease (PD). Genetic mutations have been identified in genes encoding for PIP-regulating and PIP-interacting proteins, that are associated with familial and sporadic PD. Many of these proteins are implicated in vesicular membrane trafficking, mechanisms that were recently highlighted for their close associations with PD. PIPs are phosphorylated forms of the membrane phospholipid, phosphatidylinositol. Their composition in the vesicle's membrane of origin, as well as membrane of destination, controls vesicular membrane trafficking. We review the converging evidence that points to the involvement of PIPs in PD. The review describes PD- and PIP-associated proteins implicated in clathrin-mediated endocytosis and autophagy, and highlights the involvement of α-synuclein in these mechanisms.
    Keywords:  Parkinson’s disease; phosphoinositides; vesicular membrane trafficking