bims-auttor Biomed News
on Autophagy and mTOR
Issue of 2021‒07‒25
34 papers selected by
Viktor Korolchuk, Newcastle University

  1. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2021 ;9 655731
      The mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR), master regulator of cellular metabolism, exists in two distinct complexes: mTOR complex 1 and mTOR complex 2 (mTORC1 and 2). MTORC1 is a master switch for most energetically onerous processes in the cell, driving cell growth and building cellular biomass in instances of nutrient sufficiency, and conversely, allowing autophagic recycling of cellular components upon nutrient limitation. The means by which the mTOR kinase blocks autophagy include direct inhibition of the early steps of the process, and the control of the lysosomal degradative capacity of the cell by inhibiting the transactivation of genes encoding structural, regulatory, and catalytic factors. Upon inhibition of mTOR, autophagic recycling of cellular components results in the reactivation of mTORC1; thus, autophagy lies both downstream and upstream of mTOR. The functional relationship between the mTOR pathway and autophagy involves complex regulatory loops that are significantly deciphered at the cellular level, but incompletely understood at the physiological level. Nevertheless, genetic evidence stemming from the use of engineered strains of mice has provided significant insight into the overlapping and complementary metabolic effects that physiological autophagy and the control of mTOR activity exert during fasting and nutrient overload.
    Keywords:  autophagy; lysosome; mechanistic target of rapamycin; metabolism; nutrients
  2. Autophagy. 2021 Jul 19. 1-4
      Huntington disease (HD) manifests a unique macroautophagy/autophagy defect: the presense of cytosolic autophagosomes without substrates or so-called "empty" autophagosomes. It was proposed that mutant HTT (huntingtin; mHTT) disrupts cargo recognition by the selective autophagy receptor SQSTM1/p62 thus leading to the failure of cargo sequestration by phagophores, the precursors to autophagosomes. Here we looked at recent discoveries that liquid-like SQSTM1 droplets can serve as platforms for autophagosome formation, and discussed possible alternative mechanisms for "empty" autophagosome formation in HD inspired by these findings.
    Keywords:  Autophagosome; Huntington disease; SQSTM1/p62 droplet; huntingtin; phase transition
  3. Autophagy. 2021 Jul 18. 1-3
      Mitophagy, the clearance of surplus or damaged mitochondria or mitochondrial parts by autophagy, is important for maintenance of cellular homeostasis. Whereas knowledge on programmed and stress-induced mitophagy is increasing, much less is known about mechanisms of basal mitophagy. Recently, we identified SAMM50 (SAMM50 sorting and assembly machinery component) as a receptor for piecemeal degradation of components of the sorting and assembly machinery (SAM) complex and mitochondrial contact site and cristae organizing system (MICOS) complexes. SAMM50 interacts directly with Atg8-family proteins through a canonical LIR motif and with SQSTM1/p62 to mediate basal piecemeal mitophagy. During a metabolic switch to oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS), SAMM50 cooperates with SQSTM1 to mediate efficient piecemeal mitophagy.
    Keywords:  Atg8; MICOS; OXPHOS; SAMM50; SQSTM1; basal; metabolic switch; p62; piecemeal mitophagy
  4. Autophagy. 2021 Jul 19. 1-3
      As part of innate immune defenses, macroautophagy/autophagy targets viruses and viral components for lysosomal degradation and exposes pathogen-associated molecular patterns to facilitate recognition. However, viruses evolved sophisticated strategies to antagonize autophagy and even exploit it to promote their replication. In our recent study, we systematically analyzed the impact of individual SARS-CoV-2 proteins on autophagy. We showed that E, M, ORF3a, and ORF7a cause an accumulation of autophagosomes, whereas Nsp15 prevents the efficient formation of autophagosomes. Consequently, autophagic degradation of SQSTM1/p62 is decreased in the presence of E, ORF3a, ORF7a, and Nsp15. Notably, M does not alter SQSTM1 protein levels and colocalizes with accumulations of LC3B-positive membranes not resembling vesicles. Infection with SARS-CoV-2 prevents SQSTM1 degradation and increases lipidation of LC3B, indicating overall that the infection causes a reduction of autophagic flux. Our mechanistic analyses showed that the accessory proteins ORF3a and ORF7a both block autophagic degradation but use different strategies. While ORF3a prevents the fusion between autophagosomes and lysosomes, ORF7a reduces the acidity of lysosomes. In summary, we found that Nsp15, E, M, ORF3a, and ORF7a of SARS-CoV-2 manipulate cellular autophagy, and we determined the molecular mechanisms of ORF3a and ORF7a.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; COVID-19; Envelope protein; Membrane protein; Nsp15; ORF3a; ORF7a; SARS-CoV; SARS-CoV-2; double-membrane vesicles; innate immunity
  5. J Pharmacol Sci. 2021 Sep;pii: S1347-8613(21)00059-1. [Epub ahead of print]147(1): 156-167
      We investigated the effect of 3-methyladenine (3MA), a class III phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)-blocking autophagy inhibitor, on cancer cell death induced by simultaneous inhibition of glycolysis by 2-deoxyglucose (2DG) and mitochondrial respiration by rotenone. 2DG/rotenone reduced ATP levels and increased mitochondrial superoxide production, causing mitochondrial swelling and necrotic death in various cancer cell lines. 2DG/rotenone failed to increase proautophagic beclin-1 and autophagic flux in melanoma cells despite the activation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and inhibition of mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1). 3MA, but not autophagy inhibition with other PI3K and lysosomal inhibitors, attenuated 2DG/rotenone-induced mitochondrial damage, oxidative stress, ATP depletion, and cell death, while antioxidant treatment mimicked its protective action. The protection was not mediated by autophagy upregulation via class I PI3K/Akt inhibition, as it was preserved in cells with genetically inhibited autophagy. 3MA increased AMPK and mTORC1 activation in energy-stressed cells, but neither AMPK nor mTORC1 inhibition reduced its cytoprotective effect. 3MA reduced JNK activation, and JNK pharmacological/genetic suppression mimicked its mitochondria-preserving and cytoprotective activity. Therefore, 3MA prevents energy stress-triggered cancer cell death through autophagy-independent mechanisms possibly involving JNK suppression and decrease of oxidative stress. Our results warrant caution when using 3MA as an autophagy inhibitor.
    Keywords:  3-Methyladenine; Autophagy; Glycolysis; Mitochondria; Necrosis
  6. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2021 Jul 23.
      Autophagy is a versatile degradation system for maintaining cellular homeostasis whereby cytosolic materials are sequestered in a double-membrane autophagosome and subsequently delivered to lysosomes, where they are broken down. In multicellular organisms, newly formed autophagosomes undergo a process called 'maturation', in which they fuse with vesicles originating from endolysosomal compartments, including early/late endosomes and lysosomes, to form amphisomes, which eventually become degradative autolysosomes. This fusion process requires the concerted actions of multiple regulators of membrane dynamics, including SNAREs, tethering proteins and RAB GTPases, and also transport of autophagosomes and late endosomes/lysosomes towards each other. Multiple mechanisms modulate autophagosome maturation, including post-translational modification of key components, spatial distribution of phosphoinositide lipid species on membranes, RAB protein dynamics, and biogenesis and function of lysosomes. Nutrient status and various stresses integrate into the autophagosome maturation machinery to coordinate the progression of autophagic flux. Impaired autophagosome maturation is linked to the pathogenesis of various human diseases, including neurodegenerative disorders, cancer and myopathies. Furthermore, invading pathogens exploit various strategies to block autophagosome maturation, thus evading destruction and even subverting autophagic vacuoles (autophagosomes, amphisomes and autolysosomes) for survival, growth and/or release. Here, we discuss the recent progress in our understanding of the machinery and regulation of autophagosome maturation, the relevance of these mechanisms to human pathophysiology and how they are harnessed by pathogens for their benefit. We also provide perspectives on targeting autophagosome maturation therapeutically.
  7. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Jul 03. pii: 7194. [Epub ahead of print]22(13):
      Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the main cause of vision loss in the elderly, is associated with oxidation in the retina cells promoting telomere attrition. Activation of telomerase was reported to improve macular functions in AMD patients. The catalytic subunit of human telomerase (hTERT) may directly interact with proteins important for senescence, DNA damage response, and autophagy, which are impaired in AMD. hTERT interaction with mTORC1 (mTOR (mechanistic target of rapamycin) complex 1) and PINK1 (PTEN-induced kinase 1) activates macroautophagy and mitophagy, respectively, and removes cellular debris accumulated over AMD progression. Ectopic expression of telomerase in retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells lengthened telomeres, reduced senescence, and extended their lifespan. These effects provide evidence for the potential of telomerase in AMD therapy. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1-alpha (PGC-1α) may be involved in AMD pathogenesis through decreasing oxidative stress and senescence, regulation of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and improving autophagy. PGC-1α and TERT form an inhibitory positive feedback loop. In conclusion, telomerase activation and its ectopic expression in RPE cells, as well as controlled clinical trials on the effects of telomerase activation in AMD patients, are justified and should be assisted by PGC-1α modulators to increase the therapeutic potential of telomerase in AMD.
    Keywords:  AMD; DNA damage response; PGC-1α; age-related macular degeneration; autophagy; hTERT; mTORC1; peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1 alpha; senescence; telomerase
  8. J Virol. 2021 Jul 21. JVI0085121
      Uncoordinated 51-like kinase 1 (ULK1) is a well-characterized initiator of canonical autophagy under basal or pathological conditions. Porcine haemagglutinating encephalomyelitis virus (PHEV), a neurotropic betacoronavirus (β-CoV), impairs ULK1 kinase but hijacks autophagy to facilitate viral proliferation. However, the machinery of PHEV-induced autophagy initiation upon ULK1 kinase deficiency remains unclear. Here, the time course of PHEV infection showed a significant accumulation of autophagosomes (APs) in nerve cells in vivo and in vitro. Utilizing the ULK1-knockout neuroblastoma cells, we have identified that ULK1 was not essential for productive AP formation induced by PHEV. In vitro phosphorylation studies discovered that mTORC1-regulated ULK1 activation stalls during PHEV infection, whereas the AP biogenesis was controlled by AMPK-driven BECN1 phosphorylation. A lack of BECN1 is sufficient to block LC3 lipidation and disrupt recruitment of the LC3-ATG14 complex. Moreover, BECN1 acts as a bona fide substrate for ULK1-independent neural autophagy, and ectopic expression of BECN1 somewhat enhances PHEV replication. These findings highlight a novel machinery of non-canonical autophagy independent of ULK1 that bypasses the conserved initiation circuit of AMPK-mTORC1-ULK1, providing new insights into the interplay between neurotropic β-CoV and the host. IMPORTANCE The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic alongside the outbreaks of SARS and MERS pose betacoronavirus (β-CoV) as a global public health challenge. Coronaviruses subvert, haijack, or utilize autophagy to promote proliferation, thus exploring the cross-talk between β-CoV and autophagy of great significance in confronting future β-CoV outbreaks. Porcine haemagglutinating encephalomyelitis virus (PHEV) is a highly neurotropic β-CoV and invades the central nervous system (CNS) in pigs, but understanding of the pathogenesis for PHEV-induced neurological dysfunction yet limited. Here, we discovered a novel regulatory principle of neural autophagy initiation during PHEV infection, where productive autophagosome (AP) biogenesis bypassing the multifaceted regulation of ULK1 kinase. The PHEV-triggered non-canonical autophagy underscores the complex interactions of virus-host, and will help in the development of therapeutic strategies targeting non-canonical autophagy to treat β-CoV disease.
  9. Genes Dis. 2021 Sep;8(5): 640-654
      Mitochondrial autophagy (mitophagy) is the selective clearance of damaged or incomplete mitochondria by autophagy, which is critical for the functional integrity of the entire mitochondrial network and cell survival. Because dysfunction of mitophagy is closely related to many diseases, it is important to study the specific molecular mechanism and pathophysiological significance of mitophagy. FUN14 domain-containing 1 (FUNDC1) is a newly identified mitochondrial outer membrane protein that induces receptor-mediated mitophagy by its interaction with LC3 during hypoxia. The expression, phosphorylation, regulation and significance of FUNDC1 are reviewed in the context of a large number of pathophysiological conditions. Emerging evidence has demonstrated that levels and phosphorylation states of FUNDC1 are closely related to occurrence, progression and prognosis of various diseases including heart diseases and cancers, indicating that FUNDC1 may serve as a promising biomarker and potential therapeutic target.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Biomarker; FUNDC1; Heart diseases; Hypoxia; Mitochondria; Mitochondrial ROS; Platelets
  10. Autophagy. 2021 Jul 21. 1-20
      Macroautophagy (hereafter referred to as autophagy) is a finely tuned process of programmed degradation and recycling of proteins and cellular components, which is crucial in neuronal function and synaptic integrity. Mounting evidence implicates chromatin remodeling in fine-tuning autophagy pathways. However, this epigenetic regulation is poorly understood in neurons. Here, we investigate the role in autophagy of KANSL1, a member of the nonspecific lethal complex, which acetylates histone H4 on lysine 16 (H4K16ac) to facilitate transcriptional activation. Loss-of-function of KANSL1 is strongly associated with the neurodevelopmental disorder Koolen-de Vries Syndrome (KdVS). Starting from KANSL1-deficient human induced-pluripotent stem cells, both from KdVS patients and genome-edited lines, we identified SOD1 (superoxide dismutase 1), an antioxidant enzyme, to be significantly decreased, leading to a subsequent increase in oxidative stress and autophagosome accumulation. In KANSL1-deficient neurons, autophagosome accumulation at excitatory synapses resulted in reduced synaptic density, reduced GRIA/AMPA receptor-mediated transmission and impaired neuronal network activity. Furthermore, we found that increased oxidative stress-mediated autophagosome accumulation leads to increased MTOR activation and decreased lysosome function, further preventing the clearing of autophagosomes. Finally, by pharmacologically reducing oxidative stress, we could rescue the aberrant autophagosome formation as well as synaptic and neuronal network activity in KANSL1-deficient neurons. Our findings thus point toward an important relation between oxidative stress-induced autophagy and synapse function, and demonstrate the importance of H4K16ac-mediated changes in chromatin structure to balance reactive oxygen species- and MTOR-dependent autophagy.Abbreviations: APO: apocynin; ATG: autophagy related; BAF: bafilomycin A1; BSO: buthionine sulfoximine; CV: coefficient of variation; DIV: days in vitro; H4K16ac: histone 4 lysine 16 acetylation; iPSC: induced-pluripotent stem cell; KANSL1: KAT8 regulatory NSL complex subunit 1; KdVS: Koolen-de Vries Syndrome; LAMP1: lysosomal associated membrane protein 1; MAP1LC3/LC3: microtubule associated protein 1 light chain 3; MEA: micro-electrode array; MTOR: mechanistic target of rapamycin kinase; NSL complex: nonspecific lethal complex; 8-oxo-dG: 8-hydroxydesoxyguanosine; RAP: rapamycin; ROS: reactive oxygen species; sEPSCs: spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic currents; SOD1: superoxide dismutase 1; SQSTM1/p62: sequestosome 1; SYN: synapsin; WRT: wortmannin.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Koolen-de Vries syndrome; MTOR; iPSCs; neuronal development; reactive oxygen species; synaptic function
  11. Autophagy. 2021 Jul 19. 1-2
      Macroautophagy/autophagy is primarily considered as a degradative pathway via the lysosome, yet the secretory functions of autophagy proteins have recently been unveiled. Autophagy proteins have been implicated in metabolic organ development, homeostasis and function, and deficiency in autophagy is associated with metabolic disorders. However, the molecular mechanisms by which autophagy proteins regulate energy metabolism and insulin sensitivity were unclear. We previously showed that systemic activation of autophagy by a hyperactive BECN1F121A mutant reduces insulin storage in islets but improves insulin sensitivity systemically. In our recent study, we found that BECN1 functions in adipose tissue to systemically regulate energy metabolism. Adipose-specific expression of BECN1F121A is sufficient to improve systemic insulin sensitivity without negatively affecting pancreatic insulin storage. We demonstrated that BECN1 interacts with exocyst subunit proteins and facilitates the secretion of an adipokine, ADIPOQ (adiponectin, C1Q and collagen domain containing), in adipose tissue. Thus, our findings suggest that BECN1 regulates insulin sensitivity in a non-degradative and non-cell autonomous manner by facilitating ADIPOQ secretion. Our study also highlighted the distinct functions of autophagy proteins in different metabolic tissues.
    Keywords:  AMPK; Adiponectin; BECN1; SEC6-SEC8; adipose tissue; exocyst; glucose tolerance; insulin sensitivity; secretory pathway
  12. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Jul 27. pii: e2020891118. [Epub ahead of print]118(30):
      Tuberous sclerosis complex 1 (Tsc1) is a tumor suppressor that functions together with Tsc2 to negatively regulate the mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) activity. Here, we show that Tsc1 has a critical role in the tight junction (TJ) formation of epithelium, independent of its role in Tsc2 and mTORC1 regulation. When an epithelial cell establishes contact with neighboring cells, Tsc1, but not Tsc2, migrates from the cytoplasm to junctional membranes, in which it binds myosin 6 to anchor the perijunctional actin cytoskeleton to β-catenin and ZO-1. In its absence, perijunctional actin cytoskeleton fails to form. In mice, intestine-specific or inducible, whole-body Tsc1 ablation disrupts adherens junction/TJ structures in intestine or skin epithelia, respectively, causing Crohn's disease-like symptoms in the intestine or psoriasis-like phenotypes on the skin. In patients with Crohn's disease or psoriasis, junctional Tsc1 levels in epithelial tissues are markedly reduced, concomitant with the TJ structure impairment, suggesting that Tsc1 deficiency may underlie TJ-related diseases. These findings establish an essential role of Tsc1 in the formation of cell junctions and underpin its association with TJ-related human diseases.
    Keywords:  Myo6; Tsc1; cell adhesion; mTORC1; tight junction–related disease
  13. Protein Cell. 2021 Jul 21.
      Chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA) is a lysosome-dependent selective degradation pathway implicated in the pathogenesis of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. However, the mechanisms that regulate CMA are not fully understood. Here, using unbiased drug screening approaches, we discover Metformin, a drug that is commonly the first medication prescribed for type 2 diabetes, can induce CMA. We delineate the mechanism of CMA induction by Metformin to be via activation of TAK1-IKKα/β signaling that leads to phosphorylation of Ser85 of the key mediator of CMA, Hsc70, and its activation. Notably, we find that amyloid-beta precursor protein (APP) is a CMA substrate and that it binds to Hsc70 in an IKKα/β-dependent manner. The inhibition of CMA-mediated degradation of APP enhances its cytotoxicity. Importantly, we find that in the APP/PS1 mouse model of Alzheimer's disease (AD), activation of CMA by Hsc70 overexpression or Metformin potently reduces the accumulated brain Aβ plaque levels and reverses the molecular and behavioral AD phenotypes. Our study elucidates a novel mechanism of CMA regulation via Metformin-TAK1-IKKα/β-Hsc70 signaling and suggests Metformin as a new activator of CMA for diseases, such as AD, where such therapeutic intervention could be beneficial.
    Keywords:  APP; Alzheimer’s disease; Hsc70; IKKα/β; Metformin; TAK1; chaperone-mediated autophagy
  14. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2021 ;11 704494
      Coxsackievirus B3 (CVB3) is a common enterovirus that causes systemic inflammatory diseases, such as myocarditis, meningitis, and encephalitis. CVB3 has been demonstrated to subvert host cellular responses via autophagy to support viral replication in neural stem cells. Mitophagy, a specialized form of autophagy, contributes to mitochondrial quality control via degrading damaged mitochondria. Here, we show that CVB3 infection induces mitophagy in human neural progenitor cells, HeLa and H9C2 cardiomyocytes. In particular, CVB3 infection triggers mitochondrial fragmentation, loss of mitochondrial membrane potential, and Parkin/LC3 translocation to the mitochondria. Rapamycin or carbonyl cyanide m-chlorophenyl hydrazone (CCCP) treatment led to increased CVB3 RNA copy number in a dose-dependent manner, suggesting enhanced viral replication via autophagy/mitophagy activation, whereas knockdown of PTEN-induced putative kinase protein 1(PINK1) led to impaired mitophagy and subsequent reduction in viral replication. Furthermore, CCCP treatment inhibits the interaction between mitochondrial antiviral signaling protein (MAVS) and TANK-binding kinase 1(TBK1), thus contributing to the abrogation of type I and III interferon (IFN) production, suggesting that mitophagy is essential for the inhibition of interferon signaling. Our findings suggest that CVB3-mediated mitophagy suppresses IFN pathways by promoting fragmentation and subsequent sequestration of mitochondria by autophagosomes.
    Keywords:  Coxsackievirus B3 virus; interferon; mitochondrial dynamics; mitophagy; neural progenitor cells and stem cells
  15. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2021 ;9 612476
      Parkinson's disease (PD) is an age-related neurodegenerative disorder affecting millions of people worldwide. The disease is characterized by the progressive loss of dopaminergic neurons and spread of Lewy pathology (α-synuclein aggregates) in the brain but the pathogenesis remains elusive. PD presents substantial clinical and genetic variability. Although its complex etiology and pathogenesis has hampered the breakthrough in targeting disease modification, recent genetic tools advanced our approaches. As such, mitochondrial dysfunction has been identified as a major pathogenic hub for both familial and sporadic PD. In this review, we summarize the effect of mutations in 11 PARK genes (SNCA, PRKN, PINK1, DJ-1, LRRK2, ATP13A2, PLA2G6, FBXO7, VPS35, CHCHD2, and VPS13C) on mitochondrial function as well as their relevance in the formation of Lewy pathology. Overall, these genes play key roles in mitochondrial homeostatic control (biogenesis and mitophagy) and functions (e.g., energy production and oxidative stress), which may crosstalk with the autophagy pathway, induce proinflammatory immune responses, and increase oxidative stress that facilitate the aggregation of α-synuclein. Thus, rectifying mitochondrial dysregulation represents a promising therapeutic approach for neuroprotection in PD.
    Keywords:  PARK genes; Parkinson’s disease; mitochondria; mitophagy; α-synuclein pathology
  16. Biomol NMR Assign. 2021 Jul 22.
      Human Atg3 (hAtg3) is an E2-like enzyme that catalyzes the conjugation of LC3 family proteins to phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) lipids in the autophagosomal membrane during autophagy. The reaction product, LC3-PE, acts as a marker for autophagic cargo and is required for the effective construction of functional autophagosomes. However, the structural and molecular basis of this conjugation reaction remains elusive, at least in part, because of the absence of lipid bilayers in structural studies conducted to date. Here, we report a sequential resonance assignment for an hAtg3 construct both in aqueous solution and in bicelles. hAtg3 has 314 residues, and our construct lacks the unstructured region from residues 90 to 190. Our results demonstrate a structural rearrangement of hAtg3 N-terminus when it interacts with membranes.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Human Atg3; NMR assignment; Protein-lipid interaction
  17. Mol Psychiatry. 2021 Jul 20.
      Neurodegenerative diseases (NDs) are characterized by the aggregation of neurotoxic proteins in the central nervous system. Aberrant protein accumulation in NDs is largely caused by the dysfunction of the two principal protein catabolism pathways, the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS), and the autophagy-lysosomal pathway (ALP). The two protein quality control pathways are bridged by ubiquitination, a post-translational modification that can induce protein degradation via both the UPS and the ALP. Perturbed ubiquitination leads to the formation of toxic aggregates and inclusion bodies that are deleterious to neurons. Ubiquitination is promoted by a cascade of ubiquitinating enzymes and counter-regulated by deubiquitinating enzymes (DUBs). As fine-tuning regulators of ubiquitination and protein degradation, DUBs modulate the stability of ND-associated pathogenic proteins including amyloid β protein, Tau, and α-synuclein. Besides, DUBs also influence ND-associated mitophagy, protein secretion, and neuroinflammation. Given the various and critical functions of DUBs in NDs, DUBs may become potential therapeutic targets for NDs.
  18. Nature. 2021 Jul 21.
      The mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) controls cell growth in response to amino acid levels1. Here we report SAR1B as a leucine sensor that regulates mTORC1 signalling in response to intracellular levels of leucine. Under conditions of leucine deficiency, SAR1B inhibits mTORC1 by physically targeting its activator GATOR2. In conditions of leucine sufficiency, SAR1B binds to leucine, undergoes a conformational change and dissociates from GATOR2, which results in mTORC1 activation. SAR1B-GATOR2-mTORC1 signalling is conserved in nematodes and has a role in the regulation of lifespan. Bioinformatic analysis reveals that SAR1B deficiency correlates with the development of lung cancer. The silencing of SAR1B and its paralogue SAR1A promotes mTORC1-dependent growth of lung tumours in mice. Our results reveal that SAR1B is a conserved leucine sensor that has a potential role in the development of lung cancer.
  19. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Jul 12. pii: 7475. [Epub ahead of print]22(14):
      Neurofibrillary tangles, which consist of highly phosphorylated tau protein, and senile plaques (SPs) are pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease (AD). In swollen axons, many autophagic vacuoles are observed around SP in the AD brain. This suggests that autophagy function is disturbed in AD. We used a neuronal cellular model of tauopathy (M1C cells), which harbors wild type tau (4R0N), to assess the effects of the lysosomotrophic agent NH4Cl, and autophagy inhibitors chloroquine and 3 methyladenine (3MA). It was found that chloroquine, NH4Cl and 3MA markedly increased tau accumulation. Thus, autophagy lysosomal system disturbances disturbed the degradation mechanisms of tau protein. Other studies also revealed that tau protein, including aggregated tau, is degraded via the autophagy lysosome system. Phosphorylated and C terminal truncated tau were also reported to disturb autophagy function. As a therapeutic strategy, autophagy upregulation was suggested. Thus far, as autophagy modulators, rapamycin, mTOCR1 inhibitor and its analogues, lithium, metformin, clonidine, curcumin, nicotinamide, bexaroten, and torehalose have been proposed. As a therapeutic strategy, autophagic modulation may be the next target of AD therapeutics.
    Keywords:  Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid β protein; autophagic vacuoles; autophagy; mTORC1; tau protein
  20. Mol Neurobiol. 2021 Jul 19.
      The main histopathology of Alzheimer's disease (AD) is featured by the extracellular accumulation of amyloid-β (Aβ) plaques and intracellular tau neurofibrillary tangles (NFT) in the brain, which is likely to result from co-pathogenic interactions among multiple factors, e.g., aging or genes. The link between defective autophagy/mitophagy and AD pathologies is still under investigation and not fully established. In this review, we consider how AD is associated with impaired autophagy and mitophagy, and how these impact pathological hallmarks as well as the potential mechanisms. This complicated interplay between autophagy or mitophagy and histopathology in AD suggests that targeting autophagy or mitophagy probably is a promising anti-AD drug candidate. Finally, we review the implications of some new insights for induction of autophagy or mitophagy as the new therapeutic way that targets processes upstream of both NFT and Aβ plaques, and hence stops the neurodegenerative course in AD.
    Keywords:  Alzheimer’s disease; Autophagy; Dementia; Mitophagy; Molecular mechanism
  21. Neurochem Int. 2021 Jul 20. pii: S0197-0186(21)00187-X. [Epub ahead of print] 105141
      Histone deacetylase 6 (HDAC6) has been shown to control major cell response pathways to the cytotoxic ubiquitinated aggregates in some protein aggregation diseases. However, it is not well known whether HDAC6 affects the aggregation process of α-synuclein (α-syn) in Parkinson's disease (PD). Previously, we demonstrated that HDAC6 inhibition exacerbated the nigrostriatal dopamine neurodegeneration and up-regulated α-syn oligomers in a heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90)-dependent manner in PD mouse model. Here, we further showed that HDAC6 overexpression partly improved the behavior deficits of the PD model and alleviated the nigrostriatal dopamine (DA) neurons injury. Furthermore, HDAC6 was found to regulate α-syn oligomers levels through activation of chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA). During this process, Hsp90 deacetylation mediated the crosstalk between HDAC6 and lysosome-associated membrane protein type 2A. Liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry and mutational analysis showed that acetylation status Hsp90 at the K489 site was a strong determinant for HDAC6-induced CMA activation, α-syn oligomers levels, and cell survival in the cell model of PD. Therefore, our findings uncovered the mechanism of HDAC6 in the PD model that HDAC6 regulated α-syn oligomers levels and DA neurons survival partly through modulating CMA, and Hsp90 deacetylation at the K489 site mediated the crosstalk between HDAC6 and CMA. HDAC6 and its downstream effectors appear as key modulators of the cytotoxic α-syn aggregates, which deserve further investigations to evaluate their values as potential therapeutic targets in PD.
    Keywords:  Chaperone-mediated autophagy; Heat shock protein 90; Histone deacetylase 6; Parkinson's disease; α-synuclein
  22. Cell Death Differ. 2021 Jul 20.
      SidE family of Legionella effectors catalyze non-canonical phosphoribosyl-linked ubiquitination (PR-ubiquitination) of host proteins during bacterial infection. SdeA localizes predominantly to ER and partially to the Golgi apparatus, and mediates serine ubiquitination of multiple ER and Golgi proteins. Here we show that SdeA causes disruption of Golgi integrity due to its ubiquitin ligase activity. The Golgi linking proteins GRASP55 and GRASP65 are PR-ubiquitinated on multiple serine residues, thus preventing their ability to cluster and form oligomeric structures. In addition, we found that the functional consequence of Golgi disruption is not linked to the recruitment of Golgi membranes to the growing Legionella-containing vacuoles. Instead, it affects the host secretory pathway. Taken together, our study sheds light on the Golgi manipulation strategy by which Legionella hijacks the secretory pathway and promotes bacterial infection.
  23. J Biol Chem. 2021 Jul 20. pii: S0021-9258(21)00795-X. [Epub ahead of print] 100993
      Loss-of-function mutations in progranulin (GRN) are a major genetic cause of frontotemporal dementia (FTD), possibly due to loss of progranulin's neurotrophic and anti-inflammatory effects. Progranulin promotes neuronal growth and protects against excitotoxicity and other forms of injury. It is unclear if these neurotrophic effects are mediated through cellular signaling or through promotion of lysosomal function. Progranulin is a secreted pro-protein that may activate neurotrophic signaling through cell-surface receptors. However, progranulin is efficiently trafficked to lysosomes and is necessary for maintaining lysosomal function. To determine which of these mechanisms mediates progranulin's protection against excitotoxicity, we generated lentiviral vectors expressing progranulin (PGRN) or lysosome-targeted progranulin (L-PGRN). L-PGRN was generated by fusing the LAMP-1 transmembrane and cytosolic domains to the C-terminus of progranulin. L-PGRN exhibited no detectable secretion, but was delivered to lysosomes and processed into granulins. PGRN and L-PGRN protected against NMDA excitotoxicity in rat primary cortical neurons, but L-PGRN had more consistent protective effects than PGRN. L-PGRN's protective effects were likely mediated through the autophagy-lysosomal pathway. In control neurons, an excitotoxic dose of NMDA stimulated autophagy, and inhibiting autophagy with 3-methyladenine reduced excitotoxic cell death. L-PGRN blunted the autophagic response to NMDA and occluded the protective effect of 3-methyladenine. This was not due to a general impairment of autophagy, as L-PGRN increased basal autophagy and did not alter autophagy after nutrient starvation. These data show that progranulin's protection against excitotoxicity does not require extracellular progranulin, but is mediated through lysosomes, providing a mechanistic link between progranulin's lysosomal and neurotrophic effects.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Cell Death; Excitotoxicity; Frontotemporal dementia; Lysosome; Neurodegenerative disease; Progranulin; Protein Secretion
  24. Nature. 2021 Jul 21.
      The classic mode of STING activation is through binding the cyclic dinucleotide 2'3'-cyclic GMP-AMP (cGAMP), produced by the DNA sensor cyclic GMP-AMP synthase (cGAS), which is important for the innate immune response to microbial infection and autoimmune disease. Modes of STING activation that are independent of cGAS are much less well understood. Here, through a spatiotemporally resolved proximity labelling screen followed by quantitative proteomics, we identify the lysosomal membrane protein Niemann-Pick type C1 (NPC1) as a cofactor in the trafficking of STING. NPC1 interacts with STING and recruits it to the lysosome for degradation in both human and mouse cells. Notably, we find that knockout of Npc1 'primes' STING signalling by physically linking or 'tethering' STING to SREBP2 trafficking. Loss of NPC1 protein also 'boosts' STING signalling by blocking lysosomal degradation. Both priming and boosting of STING signalling are required for severe neurological disease in the Npc1-/- mouse. Genetic deletion of Sting1 (the gene that encodes STING) or Irf3, but not that of Cgas, significantly reduced the activation of microglia and relieved the loss of Purkinje neurons in the cerebellum of Npc1-/- mice, leading to improved motor function. Our study identifies a cGAS- and cGAMP-independent mode of STING activation that affects neuropathology and provides a therapeutic target for the treatment of Niemann-Pick disease type C.
  25. Mol Ther. 2021 Jul 20. pii: S1525-0016(21)00366-X. [Epub ahead of print]
      Machado-Joseph disease (MJD) is a fatal neurodegenerative disorder clinically characterized by prominent ataxia. It is caused by an expansion of a CAG trinucleotide in the ATXN3 gene, translating into an expanded polyglutamine (polyQ) tract in the ATXN3 protein, that becomes prone to misfolding and aggregation. The pathogenesis of the disease has been associated with the dysfunction of several cellular mechanisms, including autophagy and transcription regulation. Here we investigated the transcriptional modifications of the autophagy pathway in models of MJD and assessed whether modulating the levels of the affected autophagy-associated transcripts (AATs), would alleviate MJD-associated pathology. Our results show that autophagy is impaired at the transcriptional level in MJD, affecting multiple AATs, including Unc-51 like autophagy activating kinase 1 and 2 (ULK1 and ULK2), two homologs involved in autophagy induction. Reinstating ULK1/2 levels by AAV-mediated gene transfer, significantly improved motor performance, while preventing neuropathology in two in vivo models of MJD. Moreover, in vitro studies showed that the observed positive effects may be mainly attributed to ULK1 activity. This study provides a strong evidence of the beneficial effect of ULK homologs overexpression, suggesting these as promising instruments for the treatment of MJD and other neurodegenerative disorders.
    Keywords:  Machado–Joseph disease; Unc-51 like autophagy activating kinase 1 and 2; ataxin-3; autophagy; neuroprotection; transcriptional dysregulation
  26. Neurosci Lett. 2021 Jul 15. pii: S0304-3940(21)00495-X. [Epub ahead of print] 136117
      The CLN3 gene was identified over two decades ago, but the primary function of the CLN3 protein remains unknown. Recessive inheritance of loss of function mutations in CLN3 are responsible for juvenile neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (Batten disease, or CLN3 disease), a fatal childhood onset neurodegenerative disease causing vision loss, seizures, progressive dementia, motor function loss and premature death. CLN3 is a multipass transmembrane protein that primarily localizes to endosomes and lysosomes. Defects in endocytosis, autophagy, and lysosomal function are common findings in CLN3-deficiency model systems. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying these defects have not yet been fully elucidated. In this mini-review, we will summarize the current understanding of the CLN3 protein interaction network and discuss how this knowledge is starting to delineate the molecular pathogenesis of CLN3 disease. Accumulating evidence strongly points towards CLN3 playing a role in regulation of the cytoskeleton and cytoskeletal associated proteins to tether cellular membranes, regulation of membrane complexes such as channels/transporters, and modulating the function of small GTPases to effectively mediate vesicular movement and membrane dynamics.
    Keywords:  CLN3; actin; autophagy; cytoskeleton; endocytosis; intracellular trafficking; ion channels
  27. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Jul 06. pii: 7271. [Epub ahead of print]22(14):
      We recently demonstrated that chemical proteasome inhibition induced inner retinal degeneration, supporting the pivotal roles of the ubiquitin-proteasome system in retinal structural integrity maintenance. In this study, using beclin1-heterozygous (Becn1-Het) mice with autophagic dysfunction, we tested our hypothesis that autophagy could be a compensatory retinal protective mechanism for proteasomal impairment. Despite the reduced number of autophagosome, the ocular tissue morphology and intraocular pressure were normal. Surprisingly, Becn1-Het mice experienced the same extent of retinal degeneration as was observed in wild-type mice, following an intravitreal injection of a chemical proteasome inhibitor. Similarly, these mice equally responded to other chemical insults, including endoplasmic reticulum stress inducer, N-methyl-D-aspartate, and lipopolysaccharide. Interestingly, in cultured neuroblastoma cells, we found that the mammalian target of rapamycin-independent autophagy activators, lithium chloride and rilmenidine, rescued these cells against proteasome inhibition-induced death. These results suggest that Becn1-mediated autophagy is not an effective intrinsic protective mechanism for retinal damage induced by insults, including impaired proteasomal activity; furthermore, autophagic activation beyond normal levels is required to alleviate the cytotoxic effect of proteasomal inhibition. Further studies are underway to delineate the precise roles of different forms of autophagy, and investigate the effects of their activation in rescuing retinal neurons under various pathological conditions.
    Keywords:  autophagy; neuroprotection; proteasome inhibition; retinal degeneration
  28. Dis Model Mech. 2021 Jul 01. pii: dmm048997. [Epub ahead of print]14(7):
      The vacuolar-type H+-ATPase (V-ATPase) is a multi-subunit proton pump that regulates cellular pH. V-ATPase activity modulates several cellular processes, but cell-type-specific functions remain poorly understood. Patients with mutations in specific V-ATPase subunits can develop sensorineural deafness, but the underlying mechanisms are unclear. Here, we show that V-ATPase mutations disrupt the formation of zebrafish neuromasts, which serve as a model to investigate hearing loss. V-ATPase mutant neuromasts are small and contain pyknotic nuclei that denote dying cells. Molecular markers and live imaging show that loss of V-ATPase induces mechanosensory hair cells in neuromasts, 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. Modulating the mitochondrial permeability transition pore, which regulates mitochondrial membrane potential, improves hair cell survival. These results have implications for understanding the causes of sensorineural deafness, and more broadly, reveal functions for V-ATPase in 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
  29. Cell Commun Signal. 2021 Jul 19. 19(1): 77
      BACKGROUND: CMTM7 is a tumor suppressor that positively regulates EGFR degradation by promoting Rab5 activation, and plays a vital role in tumor progression. Rab5 forms complexes with Beclin1 and VPS34, and acts in the early stage of autophagy. However, the affects of CMTM7 on autophagy and its mechanism are still unclear.METHODS: The effect of CMTM7 on autophagy induction was confirmed by western blotting, confocal microscopy and transmission electron microscopy. Co-immunoprecipitation was used to analyse the interaction of CMTM7 with autophagy initiation complex and Rab5. The xenograft model in nude mice was used to elucidate the function of CMTM7 in tumorigenicity and autophagy in vivo.
    RESULTS: In this study, we first demonstrated that CMTM7 facilitated the initiation of autophagosome formation, which consequently promoted the subsequent multistage process of autophagic flux, i.e. from autophagosome assembly till autolysosome formation and degradation. Confocal and co-immunoprecipitation showed that CMTM7 interacted with Rab5, VPS34, Beclin1, and ATG14L, but not with ULK1, UVRAG and LC3B. CMTM7 also increased the activity of ATG14L-linked VPS34 complex and its association with Rab5. Both in vitro and in vivo experiments demonstrated that knockdown of CMTM7 enhanced tumor growth by impairing autophagy.
    CONCLUSION: These findings highlighted the role of CMTM7 in the regulation of autophagy and tumorigenicity, revealing it as a novel molecule that is associated with the interaction of Rab5 and ATG14L-Beclin1-VPS34 complex. Video Abstract.
    Keywords:  ATG14L-Beclin1-VPS34; Autophagy; CMTM7; Rab5; Tumorigenicity
  30. Autophagy. 2021 Jul 20. 1-19
      MLKL (mixed lineage kinase domain like pseudokinase) is a well-known core component of necrosome that executes necroptotic cell death upon phosphorylation by RIPK3 (receptor interacting serine/threonine kinase 3). Recent studies also implicate a role of MLKL in endosomal trafficking, which is not always dependent on RIPK3. Using mouse Neuro-2a and L929 as well as human HEK293 and HT29 cells, we show here that MLKL is phosphorylated in response to serum and amino acid deprivation from the culture medium, in a manner that depends on CAMK2/CaMKII (calcium/calmodulin dependent protein kinase II) but not RIPK3. The starvation-induced increase in MLKL phosphorylation was accompanied by decreases in levels of lipidated MAP1LC3B/LC3B (microtubule associated protein 1 light chain 3 beta; LC3-II) and SQSTM1/p62 (sequestosome 1), markers of autophagosomes. These changes were prevented by disrupting either MLKL or CAMK2 by pharmacology and genetic manipulations. Moreover, disrupting MLKL or CAMK2 also inhibited the incorporation of LC3-II into autolysosomes, demonstrating a role of the CAMK2-MLKL pathway in facilitating autophagic flux during short-term starvation, in contrast to necroptosis which suppressed autophagic flux. Furthermore, unlike the necroptotic pathway, the starvation-evoked CAMK2-mediated MLKL phosphorylation protected cells from starvation-induced death. We propose that upon nutrient deprivation, MLKL is activated by CAMK2, which in turn facilitates membrane scission needed for autophagosome maturation, allowing the proper fusion of the autophagosome with lysosome and the subsequent substance degradation. This novel function is independent of RIPK3 and is not involved in necroptosis, implicating new roles for this pseudokinase in cell survival, signaling and metabolism.
    Keywords:  Autophagosome; Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent kinase II; RIPK3; lysosome; macroautophagy; necroptosis; nutrient deprivation
  31. Sci Rep. 2021 Jul 21. 11(1): 14827
      Inactivation of the tumor suppressor von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) gene is a key event in hereditary and sporadic clear cell renal cell carcinomas (ccRCC). The mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway is a fundamental regulator of cell growth and proliferation, and hyperactivation of mTOR signaling is a common finding in VHL-dependent ccRCC. Deregulation of mTOR signaling correlates with tumor progression and poor outcome in patients with ccRCC. Here, we report that the regulatory-associated protein of mTOR (RAPTOR) is strikingly repressed by VHL. VHL interacts with RAPTOR and increases RAPTOR degradation by ubiquitination, thereby inhibiting mTORC1 signaling. Consistent with hyperactivation of mTORC1 signaling in VHL-deficient ccRCC, we observed that loss of vhl-1 function in C. elegans increased mTORC1 activity, supporting an evolutionary conserved mechanism. Our work reveals important new mechanistic insight into deregulation of mTORC1 signaling in ccRCC and links VHL directly to the control of RAPTOR/mTORC1. This may represent a novel mechanism whereby loss of VHL affects organ integrity and tumor behavior.
  32. Nature. 2021 Jul 21.
    Keywords:  Cancer; Cell biology; Metabolism
  33. Sci Rep. 2021 Jul 21. 11(1): 14898
      Interleukin-27 (IL-27) is a cytokine that suppresses human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 infection in macrophages and is considered as an immunotherapeutic reagent for infectious diseases. It is reported that IL-27 suppresses autophagy in Mycobacterium tuberculosis-infected macrophages; however, a role for IL-27 on autophagy induction has been less studied. In this study, we investigated the impact of IL-27 in both autophagy induction and HIV-1 infection in macrophages. Primary human monocytes were differentiated into macrophages using human AB serum (huAB) alone, macrophage-colony stimulating factor (M-CSF) alone, or a combination of IL-27 with huAB or M-CSF. Electron microscopy and immunofluorescence staining demonstrated that a 20-fold increase in autophagosome formation was only detected in IL-27 + huAB-induced macrophages. Western blot analysis indicated that the autophagosome induction was not linked to either dephosphorylation of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) or lipidation of microtubule-associated protein 1A/1B-light chain 3 (LC3), an autophagosomal marker, implying that IL-27 can induce autophagy through a novel non-canonical pathway. Here we show for the first time that IL-27 induces autophagy during monocyte-to-macrophage differentiation in a subtype-dependent manner.
  34. EMBO J. 2021 Jul 23. e107911
      Cell growth is orchestrated by a number of interlinking cellular processes. Components of the TOR pathway have been proposed as potential regulators of cell growth, but little is known about their immediate effects on protein synthesis in response to TOR-dependent growth inhibition. Here, we present a resource providing an in-depth characterisation of Schizosaccharomyces pombe phosphoproteome in relation to changes observed in global cellular protein synthesis upon TOR inhibition. We find that after TOR inhibition, the rate of protein synthesis is rapidly reduced and that notable phosphorylation changes are observed in proteins involved in a range of cellular processes. We show that this reduction in protein synthesis rates upon TOR inhibition is not dependent on S6K activity, but is partially dependent on the S. pombe homologue of eIF4G, Tif471. Our study demonstrates the impact of TOR-dependent phospho-regulation on the rate of protein synthesis and establishes a foundational resource for further investigation of additional TOR-regulated targets both in fission yeast and other eukaryotes.
    Keywords:  TOR regulation; phosphoproteomics; protein synthesis