bims-auttor Biomed News
on Autophagy and mTOR
Issue of 2021‒10‒31
fifty-six papers selected by
Viktor Korolchuk, Newcastle University

  1. EMBO Rep. 2021 Oct 26. e53429
      Selective autophagy of damaged organelles is important to maintain cellular homeostasis. The mechanisms how autophagy selects specific targets is often poorly understood. Rabaptin5 was previously known as a major regulator of early endosome identity and maturation. Here, we identify two novel Rabaptin5 interactors: FIP200, a subunit of the ULK1 autophagy initiator complex, and ATG16L1, a central component of the E3-like enzyme in LC3 lipidation. Autophagy of early endosomes damaged by chloroquine or monensin treatment requires Rabaptin5 and particularly a short sequence motif that binds to the WD domain of ATG16L1. Rabaptin5 and its interaction with ATG16L1 further contributes to the autophagic elimination of Salmonella enterica early after infection, when it resides in phagosomes with early endosomal characteristics. Our results demonstrate a novel function of Rabaptin5 in quality control of early endosomes in the selective targeting of autophagy to damaged early endosomes and phagosomes.
    Keywords:  ATG16L1; Rabaptin5; Salmonella-containing vacuoles; autophagy; early endosomes
  2. J Biol Chem. 2021 Oct 21. pii: S0021-9258(21)01145-5. [Epub ahead of print] 101339
      Mitochondria are important organelles in eukaryotes. Turnover and quality control of mitochondria are regulated at the transcriptional and post-translational level by several cellular mechanisms. Removal of defective mitochondrial proteins is mediated by mitochondria resident proteases or by proteasomal degradation of individual proteins. Clearance of bulk mitochondria occurs via a selective form of autophagy termed mitophagy. In yeast and some developing metazoan cells (e.g. oocytes and reticulocytes), mitochondria are largely removed by ubiquitin-independent mechanisms. In such cases the regulation of mitophagy is mediated via phosphorylation of mitochondria-anchored autophagy receptors. On the other hand, ubiquitin-dependent recruitment of cytosolic autophagy receptors occurs in situations of cellular stress or disease, where dysfunctional mitochondria would cause oxidative damage. In mammalian cells, a well-studied ubiquitin-dependent mitophagy pathway induced by mitochondrial depolarization is regulated by the mitochondrial protein kinase PINK1 that upon activation recruits the ubiquitin ligase parkin. Here we review mechanisms of mitophagy with an emphasis on post-translational modifications that regulate various mitophagy pathways. We describe the autophagy components involved with particular emphasis on post-translational modifications. We detail the phosphorylations mediated by PINK1 and parkin-mediated ubiquitylations of mitochondrial proteins that can be modulated by deubiquitylating enzymes. We also discuss the role of accessory factors regulating mitochondrial fission/fusion and the interplay with pro- and anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family members. Comprehensive knowledge of the processes of mitophagy is essential for the understanding of vital mitochondrial turnover in health and disease.
    Keywords:  autophagy; mitochondria; phosphorylation; protein kinase PINK1; ubiquitin ligase parkin; ubiquitylation
  3. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2021 Oct 30.
      Lysosomes are single membrane-bound organelles containing acid hydrolases responsible for the degradation of cellular cargo and maintenance of cellular homeostasis. Lysosomes could originate from pre-existing endolysosomes or autolysosomes, acting as a critical juncture between autophagy and endocytosis. Stress that triggers lysosomal membrane permeabilization can be altered by ESCRT complexes; however, irreparable damage to the membrane results in the induction of a selective lysosomal degradation pathway, specifically lysophagy. Lysosomes play an indispensable role in different types of autophagy, including microautophagy, macroautophagy, and chaperone-mediated autophagy, and various cell death pathways such as lysosomal cell death, apoptotic cell death, and autophagic cell death. In this review, we discuss lysosomal reformation, maintenance, and degradation pathways following the involvement of the lysosome in autophagy and cell death, which are related to several pathophysiological conditions observed in humans.
    Keywords:  Autolysosome; Autophagic cell death; Autophagic lysosome reformation; Autophagy; Lysosome
  4. Autophagy. 2021 Oct 25.
      Organelle-specific autophagy directs degradation of eukaryotic organelles under certain conditions. Like other organelles, peroxisomes are subject to autophagic turnover at lysosomes. However, peroxisome autophagy (pexophagy) has yet to be analyzed in a live-animal system, limiting knowledge on its regulation during an animal's life. Here, we generated a tandem-fluorophore reporter that enabled real-time tracking of pexophagy in live Caenorhabditis elegans. We observed that pexophagy occurred at a population of non-canonical, tubular lysosomes specifically during starvation and aging. Remarkably, in these contexts, tubular lysosomes were the predominant type of lysosome in the intestine, transforming from vesicles. Though we found that peroxisomes were largely eliminated in early adulthood, they appeared restored in new generations. We identified peroxisomal genes that regulated age-dependent peroxisome loss and demonstrated that modifying this process altered animal lifespan. These findings reveal new facets of peroxisome homeostasis relevant to aging and challenge the prevailing perception of lysosome homogeneity in autophagy.
    Keywords:  fluorescent reporters; lysosome morphology; markers of aging; peroxisomes; pexophagy; spinster; transgenerational rejuvenation; tubular lysosomes
  5. J Mol Biol. 2021 Oct 22. pii: S0022-2836(21)00563-5. [Epub ahead of print] 167326
      The budding yeast Sch9 kinase (functional orthologue of the mammalian S6 kinase) is a major effector of the Target of Rapamycin Complex 1 (TORC1) complex in the regulation of cell growth in response to nutrient availability and stress. Sch9 is partially localized at the vacuolar surface, where it is phosphorylated by TORC1. The recruitment of Sch9 on the vacuole is mediated by direct interaction between phospholipids of the vacuolar membrane and the region of Sch9 encompassing amino acid residues 1-390, which contains a C2 domain. Since many C2 domains mediate phospholipid binding, it had been suggested that the C2 domain of Sch9 mediates its vacuolar recruitment. However, the in vivo requirement of the C2 domain for Sch9 localization had not been demonstrated, and the phenotypic consequences of Sch9 delocalization remained unknown. Here, by examining cellular localization, phosphorylation state and growth phenotypes of Sch9 truncation mutants, we show that deletion of the N-terminal domain of Sch9 (aa 1-182), but not the C2 domain (aa 183-399), impairs vacuolar localization and TORC1-dependent phosphorylation of Sch9, while causing growth defects similar to those observed in sch9Δ cells. These defects can be reversed either via artificial tethering of the protein to the vacuole, or by introducing phosphomimetic mutations at the TORC1 target sites, suggesting that Sch9 localization on the vacuole is needed for the TORC1-dependent activation of the kinase. Our study uncovers a key role for the N-terminal domain of Sch9 and provides new mechanistic insight into the regulation of a major TORC1 signaling branch.
    Keywords:  C2 domain; Cell growth; Saccharomyces cerevisiae; TOR signaling; kinase
  6. Autophagy. 2021 Oct 27.
      Mice deficient for GHR (growth hormone receptor; ghr KO) have a dramatic lifespan extension, and elevated levels of hepatic chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA). Using quantitative proteomics to identify protein changes in purified liver lysosomes and whole liver lysates, we provide evidence that elevated CMA in ghr KO mice downregulates proteins involved in ribosomal structure, translation initiation and elongation, and nucleocytosolic acetyl-coA production. Following up on these initial proteomics findings, we used a cell culture approach to show that CMA is necessary and sufficient to regulate the abundance of ACLY and ACSS2, the two enzymes that produce nucleocytosolic (but not mitochondrial) acetyl-coA. Inhibition of CMA in NIH3T3 cells has been shown to lead to aberrant accumulation of lipid droplets. We show that this lipid droplet phenotype is rescued by knocking down ACLY or ACSS2, suggesting that CMA regulates lipid droplet formation by controlling ACLY and ACSS2. This evidence leads to a model of how constitutive activation of CMA can shape specific metabolic pathways in long-lived endocrine mutant mice.
    Keywords:  aging; autophagy; growth hormone; metabolism; proteomics
  7. Autophagy. 2021 Oct 27. 1-3
      Macroautophagy/autophagy is special because the double-layer lipid-formed autophagosome is formed by de novo generation. Phosphatidylinositol-3-phosphate (PtdIns3P) produced by class III phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase complex I (PtdIns3K-CI) is an essential source lipid for the formation of autophagosomes. However, how autophagy is initiated is unknown. In other words, the mechanism by which PtdIns3K-CI is recruited to the phagophore assembly site (PAS) to initiate autophagosome formation is unclear. We recently uncovered the pivotal role of yeast Vac8 in autophagy initiation through the recruitment of PtdIns3K-CI to the PAS. N-terminal palmitoylation of Vac8 anchors it to the vacuole membrane, and the middle ARM domains bind PtdIns3K-CI, leading to the generation of PtdIns3P at the PAS and subsequent autophagosome formation. We found that mouse ARMC3 is the homolog of yeast Vac8 and that its autophagic roles are conserved. Interestingly, spermatids from mice with Armc3 deletion showed blocked ribophagy, low energy levels of mitochondria and motionless flagella, which caused male infertility. These findings revealed a germ tissue-specific autophagic function of ARMC3 in complex eukaryotic species.
    Keywords:  ARM; ARMC3; PtdIns3K-CI; PtdIns3P; Vac8; flagella; mitochondria; palmitoylation; ribosome; sperm
  8. Mol Cell. 2021 Oct 15. pii: S1097-2765(21)00800-5. [Epub ahead of print]
      Cell state changes are associated with proteome remodeling to serve newly emergent cell functions. Here, we show that NGN2-driven conversion of human embryonic stem cells to induced neurons (iNeurons) is associated with increased PINK1-independent mitophagic flux that is temporally correlated with metabolic reprogramming to support oxidative phosphorylation. Global multiplex proteomics during neurogenesis revealed large-scale remodeling of functional modules linked with pluripotency, mitochondrial metabolism, and proteostasis. Differentiation-dependent mitophagic flux required BNIP3L and its LC3-interacting region (LIR) motif, and BNIP3L also promoted mitophagy in dopaminergic neurons. Proteomic analysis of ATG12-/- iNeurons revealed accumulation of endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi, and mitochondria during differentiation, indicative of widespread organelle remodeling during neurogenesis. This work reveals broad organelle remodeling of membrane-bound organelles during NGN2-driven neurogenesis via autophagy, identifies BNIP3L's central role in programmed mitophagic flux, and provides a proteomic resource for elucidating how organelle remodeling and autophagy alter the proteome during changes in cell state.
    Keywords:  autophagy; iNeurons; mitophagy; proteomics
  9. FASEB J. 2021 Nov;35(11): e22002
      Autophagy is a catabolic process responsible for the removal of waste and damaged cellular components by lysosomal degradation. It plays a key role in fundamental cell processes, including ER stress mitigation, control of cell metabolism, and cell differentiation and proliferation, all of which are essential for cartilage cell (chondrocyte) development and survival, and for the formation of cartilage. Correspondingly, autophagy dysregulation has been implicated in several skeletal disorders such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. To test the requirement for autophagy during skeletal development in zebrafish, we generated an atg13 CRISPR knockout zebrafish line. This line showed a complete loss of atg13 expression, and restricted autophagic activity in vivo. In the absence of autophagy, chondrocyte maturation was accelerated, with chondrocytes exhibiting signs of premature hypertrophy. Focussing on the jaw element, autophagy disruption affected joint articulation causing restricted mouth opening. This gross behavioural phenotype corresponded with a failure to thrive, and death in homozygote atg13 nulls within 17 days. Taken together, our results are consistent with autophagy contributing to the timely regulation of chondrocyte maturation and for extracellular matrix formation.
    Keywords:  Atg13; autophagy; chondrocytes; joints; zebrafish
  10. J Hepatol. 2021 Oct 25. pii: S0168-8278(21)02151-6. [Epub ahead of print]
      BACKGROUND & AIMS: Either activation of mTORC1 due to loss of Tsc1 (Tuberous Sclerosis Complex 1) or defective hepatic autophagy due to loss of Atg5 leads to spontaneous liver tumorigenesis in mice. The purpose of this study was to investigate the mechanisms of how autophagy impacts mTORC1 activation-mediated liver metabolic changes and tumorigenesis.METHODS: Atg5 Flox/Flox (Atg5F/F) and Tsc1F/F mice were crossed with albumin Cre mice to generate liver-specific Atg5 knockout (L-Atg5 KO), L-Tsc1 KO and L-Atg5/Tsc1 double KO (DKO) mice. These mice were crossed with p62/Sqstm1F/F (p62) and whole body Nrf2 KO mice to generate L-Atg5/Tsc1/p62 and L-Atg5/Tsc1, Nrf2 triple KO (TKO) mice. These mice were housed for various time points up to 12 months, and blood and liver tissues were harvested for biochemical and histological analysis RESULTS: Deletion of Atg5 in L-Tsc1 KO mice inhibited liver tumorigenesis, but increased mortality of L-Tsc1 KO mice accompanied by drastically enhanced hepatic ductular reaction (DR), hepatocyte degeneration and metabolic reprogramming. Deletion of p62 reversed DR, hepatocyte degeneration and metabolic reprogramming as well as the mortality of L-Atg5/Tsc1 DKO mice, but unexpectedly promoted liver tumorigenesis via activation of a group of oncogenic signaling pathways. Nrf2 ablation markedly improved DR with increased hepatocyte population and improved metabolic reprogramming and survival of the L- Atg5/Tsc1 DKO mice without tumor formation. Decreased p62 and increased mTOR activity was also found in a subset of human hepatocellular carcinoma.
    CONCLUSIONS: These results reveal previously undescribed functions of hepatic p62 in suppressing tumorigenesis and regulating liver cell repopulation and metabolic reprogramming resulting from persistent mTORC1 activation and defective autophagy.
    LAY SUMMARY: Metabolic liver disease and viral hepatitis are common chronic liver diseases and risk factors of hepatocellular carcinoma, which are often associated with impaired hepatic autophagy with increased mTOR activation. Using multiple genetic engineered mice that are defective of hepatic autophagy with persistent mTOR activation, we dissected the complex interplay among mTOR, autophagy, p62 and Nrf2 on liver cell repopulation, metabolic reprogramming and redox homeostasis in liver tumorigenesis. Our results uncovered an unexpected novel tumor suppressor function of p62/Sqstm1 by regulating liver cell repopulation, ductular reaction and metabolic reprogramming in liver tumorigenesis.
    Keywords:  Atg5; HCC; Nrf2; Tsc1; fibrosis; p62
  11. Nucleus (Calcutta). 2021 Oct 16. 1-13
      Autophagy is a homeostatic process designed to eliminate dysfunctional and aging organelles and misfolded proteins through a well-concerted pathway, starting with forming a double-membrane vesicle and culminating in the lysosomal degradation of the cargo enclosed inside the mature vesicle. As a vital sentry of cellular health, autophagy is regulated in every human disease condition and is an essential target for non-coding RNAs like microRNAs (miRNAs). miRNAs are short oligonucleotides that specifically bind to the 3'-untranslated region (UTR) of target mRNAs, thus leading to mRNA silencing, degradation, or translation blockage. This review summarizes the recent findings regarding the regulation of autophagy and autophagy-related genes by different miRNAs in various pathological conditions, including cancer, kidney and liver disorders, neurodegeneration, cardiovascular disorders, infectious diseases, aging-related conditions, and inflammation-related diseases. As miRNAs are being identified as prime regulators of autophagy in human disease, pharmacological molecules and traditional medicines targeting these miRNAs are also being tested in disease models, thus initiating a new series of therapeutic interventions targeting autophagy.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Non-coding RNAs; autophagomIRs; miRNA
  12. Cell Death Dis. 2021 Oct 29. 12(11): 1028
      Ferroptosis is a form of regulated cell death that emerges to be relevant for therapy-resistant and dedifferentiating cancers. Although several lines of evidence suggest that ferroptosis is a type of autophagy-dependent cell death, the underlying molecular mechanisms remain unclear. Fin56, a type 3 ferroptosis inducer, triggers ferroptosis by promoting glutathione peroxidase 4 (GPX4) protein degradation via a not fully understood pathway. Here, we determined that Fin56 induces ferroptosis and autophagy in bladder cancer cells and that Fin56-triggered ferroptosis mechanistically depends on the autophagic machinery. Furthermore, we found that autophagy inhibition at different stages attenuates Fin56-induced oxidative stress and GPX4 degradation. Moreover, we investigated the effects of Fin56 in combination with Torin 2, a potent mTOR inhibitor used to activate autophagy, on cell viability. We found that Fin56 synergizes with Torin 2 in cytotoxicity against bladder cancer cells. Collectively, our findings not only support the concept that ferroptosis is a type of autophagy-dependent cell death but imply that the combined application of ferroptosis inducers and mTOR inhibitors is a promising approach to improve therapeutic options in the treatment of bladder cancer.
  13. J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2021 Oct 23.
      Protein homeostasis, or proteostasis, is essential for cell function and viability. Unwanted, damaged, misfolded and aggregated proteins are degraded by the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) and the autophagy-lysosome pathway. Growing evidence indicates that alterations in these major proteolytic mechanisms lead to a demise in proteostasis, contributing to the onset and development of distinct diseases. Indeed, dysregulation of the UPS or autophagy is linked to several neurodegenerative, infectious and inflammatory disorders as well as cancer. Thus, modulation of protein clearance pathways is a promising approach for therapeutics. In this review, we discuss recent findings and open questions on how targeting proteolytic mechanisms could be applied for disease intervention.
    Keywords:  Aging; Alzheimer’s disease; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Autophagy; Cancer; Huntington’s disease; Parkinson’s disease; Proteasome; Proteostasis
  14. Circ Res. 2021 Oct 29. 129(10): 946-948
    Keywords:  Editorials; NO synthase type III; autophagy; endothelial cells; ischemia; molecular chaperones
  15. Food Chem Toxicol. 2021 Oct 21. pii: S0278-6915(21)00665-7. [Epub ahead of print] 112632
      Autophagy is a lysosome dependent degradation pathway occurring in eukaryotic cells. Autophagy ensures balance and survival mechanism of cells during harmful stress. Excessive or weak autophagy leads to abnormal function and death in some cases. Lanthanum (La), a rare earth element (REE), damages the central nervous system (CNS) and promotes learning and memory dysfunction. However, underlying mechanism has not been fully elucidated. La induces oxidative stress, inhibits Nrf2/ARE and Akt/mTOR signaling pathways, and activates JNK/c-Jun and JNK/Foxo signaling pathways, resulting in abnormal induction of autophagy in rat hippocampus. In addition, La activates PINK1- Parkin signaling pathway and induces mitochondrial autophagy. However, the relationship between La and autophagy in rat neurons at the cellular level has not been explored previously. The aim of this study was to explore adverse effects of La. Primary culture of rat neurons were exposed to 0 mmol/L, 0.025 mmol/L, 0.05 mmol/L and 0.1 mmol/L lanthanum chloride (LaCl3). The results showed that La upregulates p-AMPK, inhibits levels of p-Akt and p-mTOR, increases levels of autophagy related proteins (Beclin1 and LC3B-II), and downregulates expression of p-Bcl-2 and p62. Upstream and downstream intervention agents of autophagy were used to detect autophagy flux to verify accuracy of our results. Electron microscopy results showed significant increase in the number of autophagosomes in LaCl3 exposed groups. These findings imply that LaCl3 inhibits Akt/mTOR signaling pathway and activates AMPK/mTOR signaling pathway, resulting in abnormal autophagy in primary cultured rat cortical neurons. In addition, LaCl3 induces neuronal damage through excessive autophagy.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Lanthanum; Primary cultured neurons; Rare earth elements
  16. Mol Cancer. 2021 Oct 27. 20(1): 140
      Autophagy is best known for its role in organelle and protein turnover, cell quality control, and metabolism. The autophagic machinery has, however, also adapted to enable protein trafficking and unconventional secretory pathways so that organelles (such as autophagosomes and multivesicular bodies) delivering cargo to lysosomes for degradation can change their mission from fusion with lysosomes to fusion with the plasma membrane, followed by secretion of the cargo from the cell. Some factors with key signalling functions do not enter the conventional secretory pathway but can be secreted in an autophagy-mediated manner.Positive clinical results of some autophagy inhibitors are encouraging. Nevertheless, it is becoming clear that autophagy inhibition, even within the same cancer type, can affect cancer progression differently. Even next-generation inhibitors of autophagy can have significant non-specific effects, such as impacts on endosome-related secretory pathways and secretion of extracellular vesicles (EVs). Many studies suggest that cancer cells release higher amounts of EVs compared to non-malignant cells, which makes the effect of autophagy inhibitors on EVs secretion highly important and attractive for anticancer therapy. In this review article, we discuss how different inhibitors of autophagy may influence the secretion of EVs and summarize the non-specific effects of autophagy inhibitors with a focus on endosome-related secretory pathways. Modulation of autophagy significantly impacts not only the quantity of EVs but also their content, which can have a deep impact on the resulting pro-tumourigenic or anticancer effect of autophagy inhibitors used in the antineoplastic treatment of solid cancers.
    Keywords:  Amphisomes; Autophagy; Autophagy inhibitors; Cancer; Endosomes; Exosomes; Extracellular vesicles; Multivesicular bodies; Non-conventional secretory pathways
  17. Dev Cell. 2021 Oct 11. pii: S1534-5807(21)00807-8. [Epub ahead of print]
      Viral entry and egress are important determinants of virus infectivity and pathogenicity. β-coronaviruses, including the COVID-19 virus SARS-CoV-2 and mouse hepatitis virus (MHV), exploit the lysosomal exocytosis pathway for egress. Here, we show that SARS-CoV-2 ORF3a, but not SARS-CoV ORF3a, promotes lysosomal exocytosis. SARS-CoV-2 ORF3a facilitates lysosomal targeting of the BORC-ARL8b complex, which mediates trafficking of lysosomes to the vicinity of the plasma membrane, and exocytosis-related SNARE proteins. The Ca2+ channel TRPML3 is required for SARS-CoV-2 ORF3a-mediated lysosomal exocytosis. Expression of SARS-CoV-2 ORF3a greatly elevates extracellular viral release in cells infected with the coronavirus MHV-A59, which itself lacks ORF3a. In SARS-CoV-2 ORF3a, Ser171 and Trp193 are critical for promoting lysosomal exocytosis and blocking autophagy. When these residues are introduced into SARS-CoV ORF3a, it acquires the ability to promote lysosomal exocytosis and inhibit autophagy. Our results reveal a mechanism by which SARS-CoV-2 interacts with host factors to promote its extracellular egress.
    Keywords:  COVID-19; ORF3a; SARS-CoV; SARS-CoV-2; lysosomal exocytosis
  18. Fungal Genet Biol. 2021 Oct 25. pii: S1087-1845(21)00116-X. [Epub ahead of print] 103632
      Autophagy plays vital roles in the interaction between the necrotrophic fungal pathogen Sclerotinia sclerotiorum and its hosts. However, so far, only little is known about the impacts of autophagy machinery in S. sclerotiorum per se on the fungal morphogenesis and pathogenesis. Here, through functional genomic approaches, we showed that SsATG8, one of the core components of the autophagy machinery, and its interactor SsNBR1, an autophagy cargo receptor, are important for vegetative growth, sclerotial formation, oxalic acid (OA) production, compound appressoria development, and virulence of S. sclerotiorum. Complementation assays with chimeric fusion constructs revealed that both LDS [AIM (ATG8 interacting motif) / LIR (LC3-interacting region) docking site] and UDS [UIM (ubiquitin-interacting motif) docking site] sites of the SsATG8 are required for its functions in autophagy and pathogenesis. Importantly, ΔSsatg8 and ΔSsnbr1 mutants showed enhanced sensitivity to the exogenous treatment with the proteasome inhibitors bortezomib and carfilzomib, and ΔSsnbr1 mutant had decreased expression of SsATG8 under the proteasomal stress conditions, suggesting that a cross-talk exists between ubiquitin-proteasome and selective autophagy pathways, which enables downstream protein degradation to proceed properly during diverse biological processes. Collectively, our data indicate that SsATG8- and SsNBR1-mediated autophagy is crucial for S. sclerotiorum development, proteasomal stress response and virulence.
    Keywords:  ATG8; Autophagy; NBR1; Sclerotinia sclerotiorum; Virulence
  19. Cell Death Discov. 2021 Oct 29. 7(1): 320
      Perturbations to cellular homeostasis, including reduction of the cholesterol level, induce autophagy, a self-digestion process of cellular constituents through an autophagosomal-lysosomal pathway. In accord with its function as a membrane organizer and metabolic sentinel, the cellular response to cholesterol depletion comprises multiple phenomena, including the activation of transcriptional responses, accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), and activation of stress-related signaling pathways. However, the molecular mechanisms by which cholesterol depletion regulates autophagy and the putative involvement of transcriptional responses, ROS and/or stress-related signaling in autophagy regulation in this biological context are not fully understood. Here, we find that cholesterol depletion regulates autophagy at three different levels. First, employing RNA-seq, we show that cholesterol depletion increases the expression of autophagy-related genes independent of ROS or JNK activity. Second, analysis of LC3 lipidation and intracellular localization, and of p62 levels and degradation kinetics, reveals that cholesterol depletion mediates autophagy induction while interfering with autophagic flux. Of note, only the latter depends on ROS accumulation and JNK activity. In view of the common use of cholesterol-reducing drugs as therapeutic agents, our findings have important implications for multiple cellular settings in which autophagy plays a prominent role.
  20. J Cell Biol. 2021 Dec 06. pii: e202103030. [Epub ahead of print]220(12):
      Mechanisms that turn over components of the nucleus and inner nuclear membrane (INM) remain to be fully defined. We explore how components of the INM are selected by a cytosolic autophagy apparatus through a transmembrane nuclear envelope-localized cargo adaptor, Atg39. A split-GFP reporter showed that Atg39 localizes to the outer nuclear membrane (ONM) and thus targets the INM across the nuclear envelope lumen. Consistent with this, sequence elements that confer both nuclear envelope localization and a membrane remodeling activity are mapped to the Atg39 lumenal domain; these lumenal motifs are required for the autophagy-mediated degradation of integral INM proteins. Interestingly, correlative light and electron microscopy shows that the overexpression of Atg39 leads to the expansion of the ONM and the enclosure of a network of INM-derived vesicles in the nuclear envelope lumen. Thus, we propose an outside-in model of nucleophagy where INM is delivered into vesicles in the nuclear envelope lumen, which can be targeted by the autophagosome.
  21. Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Basis Dis. 2021 Oct 21. pii: S0925-4439(21)00226-X. [Epub ahead of print]1868(1): 166293
      Recent advances highlight that non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) are emerging as fundamental regulators in various physiological as well as pathological processes by regulating macro-autophagy. Studies have disclosed that macro-autophagy, which is a highly conserved process involving cellular nutrients, components, and recycling of organelles, can be either selective or non-selective and ncRNAs show their regulation on selective autophagy as well as non-selective autophagy. The abnormal expression of ncRNAs will result in the impairment of autophagy and contribute to carcinogenesis and cancer progression by regulating both selective autophagy as well as non-selective autophagy. This review focuses on the regulatory roles of ncRNAs in autophagy and their involvement in cancer which may provide valuable therapeutic targets for cancer management.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Cancer; Non-coding RNAs
  22. Sci Rep. 2021 Oct 26. 11(1): 21119
      Transcription factor EB (TFEB) is a master regulator of the autophagy-lysosomal pathway (ALP). Here, we cloned a novel splicing variant of TFEB, comprising 281 amino acids (hereafter referred to as small TFEB), and lacking the helix-loop-helix (HLH) and leucine zipper (LZ) motifs present in the full-length TFEB (TFEB-L). The TFEB variant is widely expressed in several tissues, including the brain, although its expression level is considerably lower than that of TFEB-L. Intriguingly, in cells stably expressing small TFEB, the expression profile of genes was inverted compared to that in cells ectopically expressing TFEB-L. In addition, fisetin-induced luciferase activity of promoter containing either coordinated lysosomal expression and regulation (CLEAR) element or antioxidant response element (ARE) was significantly repressed by co-transfection with small TFEB. Moreover, fisetin-mediated clearance of phosphorylated tau or α-synuclein was attenuated in the presence of small TFEB. Taken together, the results suggest that small TFEB is a novel splicing variant of TFEB that might act as a negative regulator of TFEB-L, thus fine tuning the activity of ALP during cellular stress.
  23. Retrovirology. 2021 Oct 28. 18(1): 33
      BACKGROUND: Autophagy plays an important role as a cellular defense mechanism against intracellular pathogens, like viruses. Specifically, autophagy orchestrates the recruitment of specialized cargo, including viral components needed for replication, for lysosomal degradation. In addition to this primary role, the cleavage of viral structures facilitates their association with pattern recognition receptors and MHC-I/II complexes, which assists in the modulation of innate and adaptive immune responses against these pathogens. Importantly, whereas autophagy restricts the replicative capacity of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), this virus has evolved the gene nef to circumvent this process through the inhibition of early and late stages of the autophagy cascade. Despite recent advances, many details of the mutual antagonism between HIV-1 and autophagy still remain unknown. Here, we uncover the genetic determinants that drive the autophagy-mediated restriction of HIV-1 as well as the counteraction imposed by Nef. Additionally, we also examine the implications of autophagy antagonism in HIV-1 infectivity.RESULTS: We found that sustained activation of autophagy potently inhibits HIV-1 replication through the degradation of HIV-1 Gag, and that this effect is more prominent for nef-deficient viruses. Gag re-localizes to autophagosomes where it interacts with the autophagosome markers LC3 and SQSTM1. Importantly, autophagy-mediated recognition and recruitment of Gag requires the myristoylation and ubiquitination of this virus protein, two post-translational modifications that are essential for Gag's central role in virion assembly and budding. We also identified residues T48 and A49 in HIV-1 NL4-3 Nef as responsible for impairing the early stages of autophagy. Finally, a survey of pandemic HIV-1 transmitted/founder viruses revealed that these isolates are highly resistant to autophagy restriction.
    CONCLUSIONS: This study provides evidence that autophagy antagonism is important for virus replication and suggests that the ability of Nef to counteract autophagy may have played an important role in mucosal transmission. Hence, disabling Nef in combination with the pharmacological manipulation of autophagy represents a promising strategy to prevent HIV spread.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Gag; HIV-1; Nef
  24. Cell Rep. 2021 Oct 26. pii: S2211-1247(21)01369-3. [Epub ahead of print]37(4): 109899
      Although commonly associated with autophagosomes, LC3 can also be recruited to membranes by covalent lipidation in a variety of non-canonical contexts. These include responses to ionophores such as the M2 proton channel of influenza A virus. We report a subtractive CRISPR screen that identifies factors required for non-canonical LC3 lipidation. As well as the enzyme complexes directly responsible for LC3 lipidation in all contexts, we show the RALGAP complex is important for M2-induced, but not ionophore drug-induced, LC3 lipidation. In contrast, ATG4D is responsible for LC3 recycling in M2-induced and basal LC3 lipidation. Identification of a vacuolar ATPase subunit in the screen suggests a common mechanism for non-canonical LC3 recruitment. Influenza-induced and ionophore drug-induced LC3 lipidation lead to association of the vacuolar ATPase and ATG16L1 and can be antagonized by Salmonella SopF. LC3 recruitment to erroneously neutral compartments may therefore represent a response to damage caused by diverse invasive pathogens.
    Keywords:  ATG16L1; ATG4D; RALGAP; autophagy; influenza; v-ATPase
  25. Natl Sci Rev. 2019 Nov;6(6): 1149-1162
      The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is an evolutionarily conserved Ser/Thr protein kinase with essential cellular function via processing various extracellular and intracellular inputs. Two distinct multi-protein mTOR complexes (mTORC), mTORC1 and mTORC2, have been identified and well characterized in eukaryotic cells from yeast to human. Sin1, which stands for Sty1/Spc1-interacting protein1, also known as mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) associated protein (MAPKAP)1, is an evolutionarily conserved adaptor protein. Mammalian Sin1 interacts with many cellular proteins, but it has been widely studied as an essential component of mTORC2, and it is crucial not only for the assembly of mTORC2 but also for the regulation of its substrate specificity. In this review, we summarize our current knowledge of the structure and functions of Sin1, focusing specifically on its protein interaction network and its roles in the mTOR pathway that could account for various cellular functions of mTOR in growth, metabolism, immunity and cancer.
    Keywords:  AGC kinases; Akt; Sin1; mTOR complex; metabolism and immune response
  26. Autophagy. 2021 Oct 28. 1-11
      The pathogenesis of pancreatitis has been linked to disruption of organelle homeostasis including macroautophagy/autophagy dysfunction and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. However, the direct impact of aberrant organelle function on pancreatitis initiation and progression is largely unknown. Recently an ER membrane protein, VMP1 (vacuole membrane protein 1), has been reported to play a crucial role in autophagosome formation. Notably, we found that VMP1 is downregulated in both human chronic pancreatitis (CP) and experimental mouse acute pancreatitis (AP). Pancreatic acinar cell-specific vmp1 deletion promotes inflammation, acinar-to-ductal metaplasia, and fibrosis in mice, sharing histological similarities with human CP. Mechanistically, loss of pancreatic VMP1 leads to defective autophagic degradation and ER stress as well as activation of the NFE2L2/Nrf2 pathway. Genetic ablation of NFE2L2 attenuated pancreatitis in VMP1-deficient mice. Our data highlight the importance of VMP1 in modulating an integrated organelle stress response and its functional role in maintaining pancreas homeostasis in the context of CP.Abbreviations: AMY: amylase; ADM: acinar-to-ductal metaplasia; AP: acute pancreatitis; CASP3: caspase 3; CP: chronic pancreatitis; DDIT3/CHOP: DNA damage inducible transcript 3; DKO, double knockout; ER: endoplasmic reticulum; GCLC: glutamate-cysteine ligase catalytic subunit; GCLM: glutamate-cysteine ligase modifier subunit; HSPA5/BIP: heat shock protein family A (Hsp70) member 5; KO: knockout; KRT19/CK19: keratin 19; MAP1LC3/LC3: microtubule associated protein 1 light chain 3; MPO: myeloperoxidase; NFE2L2/NRF2: nuclear factor, erythroid 2 like 2; ND: normal donor; NQO1: NAD(P)H quinone dehydrogenase 1; PCNA: proliferating cell nuclear antigen; RIPA: radio-immunoprecipitation; SQSTM1/p62: sequestosome 1; SOX9: SRY-box transcription factor 9; TAP: trypsinogen activation peptide; TFEB: transcription factor EB; TUNEL: terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling; UB: ubiquitin; VMP1: vacuole membrane protein 1; XBP1: X-box binding protein 1; YAP1, Yes1 associated transcriptional regulator; ZG: zymogen granule.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; ER stress; Nrf2; oxidative stress; p62
  27. Transl Oncol. 2021 Oct 20. pii: S1936-5233(21)00242-4. [Epub ahead of print]15(1): 101250
      Herein, we aimed to elucidate the molecular and cellular mechanism in which ubiquitin-specific protease 8 (USP8) is implicated in liver cancer progression via TRAF6-mediated signal. USP8 induces the deubiquitination of TRAF6, TAB2, TAK1, p62, and BECN1, which are pivotal roles for NF-κB activation and autophagy induction. Notably, the LIHC patient with low USP8 mRNA expression showed markedly shorter survival time, whereas there was no significant difference in the other 18-human cancers. Importantly, the TCGA data analysis on LIHC and transcriptome analysis on the USP8 knockout (USP8KO) SK-HEP-1 cells revealed a significant correlation between USP8 and TRAF6, TAB2, TAK1, p62, and BECN1, and enhanced NF-κB-dependent and autophagy-related cancer progression/metastasis-related genes in response to LPS stimulation. Furthermore, USP8KO SK-HEP-1 cells showed an increase in cancer migration and invasion by TLR4 stimulation, and a marked increase of tumorigenicity and metastasis in xenografted NSG mice. The results demonstrate that USP8 is negatively implicated in the LIHC progression through the regulation of TRAF6-mediated signal for the activation of NF-κB activation and autophagy induction. Our findings provide useful insight into the LIHC pathogenesis of cancer progression.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Liver cancer progression; TRAF6-mediated signal; Toll-like receptor 4; USP8
  28. Neurotoxicology. 2021 Oct 22. pii: S0161-813X(21)00127-3. [Epub ahead of print]87 231-242
      BACKGROUND: Haloperidol is a commonly used antipsychotic drug and may increase neuronal oxidative stress associated with the side effects, including tardive dyskinesia and neurite withdraw. Autophagy plays a protective role in response to the accumulated reactive oxygen species (ROS) induced mitochondria damage. Resveratrol is an antioxidant compound having neuroprotective effects; however, it is unknown if resveratrol may stimulate autophagy and decrease mitochondria damage induced by haloperidol.HYPOTHESIS: We hypothesis that resveratrol stimulates the autophagic process and protects mitochondria lesion induced by haloperidol.
    METHODS: MitoSOX™ Red Mitochondrial Superoxide Indicator and MitoTracker™ Green FM staining were used to measure the amount of the mitochondria ROS production and mitochondria mass in human SH-SY5Y cells treated with haloperidol and/or resveratrol. Autophagic related dyes and Western blot were applied to study the autophagic process and related protein expression. Besides, tandem monomeric mRFP-GFP-LC3 was used to investigate the fusion of autophagosome and lysosome. Transmission electron microscopy was used to investigate the mitochondrial and autophagic ultrastructures with or without haloperidol and resveratrol treatment.
    RESULTS: Haloperidol administration significantly increased mitochondria ROS and mitochondrial mass, indicating the increase of mitochondria dysfunction. Although haloperidol increased the autophagosomes and lysosome formation, the autophagosome-lysosome fusion and degradation were impaired. This was because we found an increased p62 after haloperidol treatment, an indication of autophagy incompletion. Importantly, resveratrol promoted the degradation of p62, upregulated the formation of autophagolysosome, and reversed haloperidol-induced mitochondria damage.
    CONCLUSION: These results collectively suggest that resveratrol may be introduced as a protective compound against haloperidol-induced mitochondria impairment and aberrant autophagy.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Haloperidol; Mitochondria ROS; Resveratrol
  29. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2021 Nov 01. pii: S0360-3016(21)01015-4. [Epub ahead of print]111(3S): S56
      PURPOSE/OBJECTIVE(S): Approximate 25% of patients with local advanced head and neck cell carcinoma (HNSCC) treated with radiation still suffer from local relapse and are considered radiation resistant. We previously determined that radiation induces autophagy, a pro-survival cellular stress response, in HNSCC. In this study, we examine the consequence of autophagy inhibition and investigate the molecular mechanism underlying RT-induced autophagy.MATERIALS/METHODS: Autophagy was assessed using a nano-Luc LC3 reporter assay (Promega), immunoblotting and immunofluorescence for LC3 and acridine orange in multiple HNSCC cell lines. RNAi knockdown of EGFR, LAPTM4B and PINK1 were used to test the involved signaling molecules. CM-H2DCFDA was used as a measure of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Hydrogen peroxide was used to stimulate ROS production. Trolox, a ROS scavenger, was used to determine the correlation between ROS and RT-induced autophagy. Mitophagy determination was completed by using MitoTracker Red (Invitrogen) combined with immunofluorescence staining for LC3 and immunoblotting. Radiation was delivered using a RS225 cabinet irradiator at a dose rate of approximately 3 Gy/min with dose validation by TLD using custom, geometry specific phantoms. SAR405, a VPS34 inhibitor, was used to inhibit autophagy. A flank xenograft model using A253 cells was used to test the combination of autophagy inhibitors and radiotherapy in vivo.
    RESULTS: RT caused a two-fold increase in autophagy as assessed using the reporter assay and immunoblotting. Knockdown of EGFR and LAPTM4B, two proteins important in growth-factor deprivation induced autophagy, did not influence autophagy in RT-treated cells. RT did increase the accumulation of ROS (∼50%) and the dephosphorylation of mTOR (∼25%). Addition of Trolox to RT contributed to a considerable decrease in both ROS (∼50%) and autophagy (∼50%). RT also resulted in a mRNA elevation of PINK1 (∼1.6 fold), a mitochondrial modulator. Immunoblotting for LC3 in both the cytoplasmic and mitochondrial fraction indicated RT mostly increases mitophagy rather than bulk autophagy, which was confirmed using immunofluorescent staining for LC3 and MitoTracker red. Using a clonogenic survival assay, the combination of SAR405 and RT resulted in complete loss of cell survival suggesting a radiosensitizing effect. In vivo, SAR405 treatment combined with RT improved tumor control when compared to RT or SAR405 alone.
    CONCLUSION: RT-induced mitophagy involves ROS-PINK1 pathway and the regulation of mTOR. Inhibition of autophagy resulted in decreased cell survival in vitro and decreased in vivo tumor growth. These results suggest that targeting mitophagy may be a viable approach to sensitize HNSCC to radiation treatment.
  30. Sci Rep. 2021 Oct 27. 11(1): 21224
      Skeletal muscle mass is critical for good quality of life. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are multipotent stem cells distributed across various tissues. They are characterized by the capacity to secrete growth factors and differentiate into skeletal muscle cells. These capabilities suggest that MSCs might be beneficial for muscle growth. Nevertheless, little is known regarding the effects on muscle protein anabolic and catabolic systems of intramuscular injection of MSCs into skeletal muscle. Therefore, in the present study, we measured changes in mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) signaling, the ubiquitin-proteasome system, and autophagy-lysosome system-related factors after a single intramuscular injection of MSCs with green fluorescence protein (GFP) into mouse muscles. The intramuscularly-injected MSCs were retained in the gastrocnemius muscle for 7 days after the injection, indicated by detection of GFP and expression of platelet-derived growth factor receptor-alpha. The injection of MSCs increased the expression of satellite cell-related genes, activated mTORC1 signaling and muscle protein synthesis, and increased protein ubiquitination and autophagosome formation (indicated by the expression of microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3-II). These results suggest that the intramuscular injection of MSCs activated muscle anabolic and catabolic systems and accelerated muscle protein turnover.
  31. Biochem J. 2021 Oct 27. pii: BCJ20210508. [Epub ahead of print]
      Mitochondrial dysfunction is implicated in Parkinson disease (PD). Mutations in Parkin, an E3 ubiquitin ligase, can cause juvenile-onset Parkinsonism probably through impairment of mitophagy. Inhibition of the de-ubiquitinating enzyme USP30 may counter this effect to enhance mitophagy. Using different tools and cellular approaches, we wanted to independently confirm this claimed role for USP30. Pharmacological characterization of additional tool compounds that selectively inhibit USP30 are reported. The consequence of USP30 inhibition by these compounds, siRNA knockdown and overexpression of dominant-negative USP30 in the mitophagy pathway in different disease-relevant cellular models was explored. Knockdown and inhibition of USP30 showed increased p-Ser65-ubiquitin levels and mitophagy in neuronal cell models. Furthermore, patient-derived fibroblasts carrying pathogenic mutations in Parkin showed reduced p-Ser65-ubiquitin levels compared to wild-type cells, levels that could be restored using either USP30 inhibitor or dominant-negative USP30 expression. Our data provide additional support for USP30 inhibition as a regulator of the mitophagy pathway.
    Keywords:  Parkinsons disease; USP30; USP30 inhibitors; mitoKeima; mitophagy; p-Ser65-ubiquitin
  32. Exp Gerontol. 2021 Oct 22. pii: S0531-5565(21)00380-6. [Epub ahead of print]156 111598
      Cellular senescence is caused by a wide range of intracellular and extracellular stimuli and influences physiological functions, leading to the progression of age-related diseases. Many studies have shown that cellular senescence is related to phosphatase and tension homolog deleted on chromosome ten (PTEN) loss and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) activation. Although it has been reported that mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) is major anti-aging target in several cell types, the functions and mechanisms of mTOR complex 2 (mTORC2) during aging have not been elucidated in vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs). Therefore, the aim of this study was to reveal the relationship between PTEN and mTORC2 during VSMC senescence. We found adriamycin-induced VSMC senescence was accompanied by reduced PTEN protein expression and upregulation of the mTORC2-Akt (Ser 473) pathway and that fisetin treatment reduced VSMC senescence by increasing PTEN and decreasing mTORC2 protein levels. Furthermore, PTEN played a primary role in the anti-aging effect of fisetin, and fisetin-activated PTEN directly regulated the mTORC2-Akt (Ser 473) signaling pathway, and attenuated senescence phenotypes such as senescence-associated β-galactosidase (SA-β-gal) and the p53-p21 signaling pathway in VSMCs. In mouse aortas, fisetin delayed aging by regulating the PTEN-mTORC2-Akt (Ser473) signaling pathway. These results suggest PTEN and mTORC2 are associated with cellular senescence in VSMCs and that the mTORC2-Akt (Ser 473) signaling pathway be considered a new target for preventing senescence-related diseases.
    Keywords:  Fisetin; PTEN; Senescence; Vascular smooth muscle cell; mTOR complex 2
  33. Autophagy. 2021 Oct 25.
      Platelets mediate central aspects of host responses during sepsis, an acute profoundly systemic inflammatory response due to infection. Macroautophagy/autophagy, which mediates critical aspects of cellular responses during inflammatory conditions, is known to be a functional cellular process in anucleate platelets, and is essential for normal platelet functions. Nevertheless, how sepsis may alter autophagy in platelets has never been established. Using platelets isolated from septic patients and matched healthy controls, we show that during clinical sepsis, the number of autophagosomes is increased in platelets, most likely due to an accumulation of autophagosomes, some containing mitochondria and indicative of mitophagy. Therefore, autophagy induction or early-stage autophagosome formation (as compared to decreased later-stage autophagosome maturation or autophagosome-late endosome/lysosome fusion) is normal or increased. This was consistent with decreased fusion of autophagosomes with lysosomes in platelets. EPG5 (ectopic P-granules autophagy protein 5 homolog), a protein essential for normal autophagy, expression did increase, while protein-protein interactions between EPG5 and MAP1LC3/LC3 (which orchestrate the fusion of autophagosomes and lysosomes) were significantly reduced in platelets during sepsis. Furthermore, data from a megakaryocyte model demonstrate the importance of TLR4 (toll like receptor 4), LPS-dependent signaling for regulating this mechanism. Similar phenotypes were also observed in platelets isolated from a patient with Vici syndrome: an inherited condition caused by a naturally occurring, loss-of-function mutation in EPG5. Together, we provide evidence that autophagic functions are aberrant in platelets during sepsis, due in part to reduced EPG5-LC3 interactions, regulated by TLR4 engagement, and the resultant accumulation of autophagosomes.
    Keywords:  EPG5; Vici syndrome; autophagic flux; co-immunoprecipitation; lipopolysaccharide; megakaryocytes; platelets; protein interactions; sepsis; toll like receptor 4
  34. Cell Death Dis. 2021 Oct 25. 12(11): 997
      The autophagy-lysosome pathway and apoptosis constitute vital determinants of cell fate and engage in a complex interplay in both physiological and pathological conditions. Central to this interplay is the archetypal autophagic cargo adaptor p62/SQSTM1/Sequestosome-1 which mediates both cell survival and endoplasmic reticulum stress-induced apoptosis via aggregation of ubiquitinated caspase-8. Here, we investigated the role of p62-mediated apoptosis in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), which can be divided into two groups based on human papillomavirus (HPV) infection status. We show that increased autophagic flux and defective apoptosis are associated with radioresistance in HPV(-) HNSCC, whereas HPV(+) HNSCC fail to induce autophagic flux and readily undergo apoptotic cell death upon radiation treatments. The degree of radioresistance and tumor progression of HPV(-) HNSCC respectively correlated with autophagic activity and cytosolic levels of p62. Pharmacological activation of the p62-ZZ domain using small molecule ligands sensitized radioresistant HPV(-) HNSCC cells to ionizing radiation by facilitating p62 self-polymerization and sequestration of cargoes leading to apoptosis. The self-polymerizing activity of p62 was identified as the essential mechanism by which ubiquitinated caspase-8 is sequestered into aggresome-like structures, without which irradiation fails to induce apoptosis in HNSCC. Our results suggest that harnessing p62-dependent sequestration of ubiquitinated caspase-8 provides a novel therapeutic avenue in patients with radioresistant tumors.
  35. Adv Sci (Weinh). 2021 Oct 28. e2102989
      Mechanistic understanding of how living systems sense, transduce, and respond to mechanical cues has important implications in development, physiology, and therapy. Here, the authors use an integrated atomic force microscope (AFM) and brightfield/epifluorescent microscope platform to precisely simulate living single cells or groups of cells under physiological conditions, in real time, concomitantly measuring the single-cell autophagic response and its transmission to neighboring cells. Dual-color fluorescence monitoring of the cellular autophagic response reveals the dynamics of autophagosome formation, degradation, and induction in neighboring contacting and noncontacting cells. Autophagosome formation is dependent on both the applied force and contact area of the AFM tip. More importantly, the enhancement of the autophagic responses in neighboring cells via a gap junction-dependent mechanism is observed. This AFM-based nanoacupuncture platform can serve as a tool for elucidating the primary mechanism underlying mechanical stimulation of living systems and other biomechanical therapeutics.
    Keywords:  atomic force microscopy; autophagy; fluorescence; intercellular transmission; nanoacupuncture
  36. Sci Rep. 2021 Oct 26. 11(1): 21134
      The sarcomere protein titin is a major determinant of cardiomyocyte stiffness and ventricular distensibility. The constant mechanical stress on titin requires well-controlled protein quality control, the exact mechanisms of which have not yet been fully elucidated. Here, we analyzed E3-ligases potentially responsible for cardiac titin ubiquitination and specifically studied the involvement of the autophagosomal system in titin degradation. Pharmacological inhibition of autophagy and the proteasome in cultured primary rat cardiomyocytes significantly elevated titin ubiquitination and increased titin degradation. Using in-vitro pull down assays we identified binding of E3-ligases MuRF1-3, CHIP and Fbx32 to several titin domains. Immunofluorescence analysis showed sarcomeric localization of the E3-ligases. siRNA-mediated knock-down of the E3-ligases MuRF-1, -3 and a combination of CHIP/Fbx32 significantly reduced autophagy-related titin ubiquitination, whereas knock-down of MuRF-2 and -3 reduced proteasome-related titin ubiquitination. We demonstrated that the proteasomal and the autophagosomal-lysosomal system participate in degradation of the titin filament. We found that ubiquitination and degradation of titin are partially regulated by E3-ligases of the MuRF family. We further identified CHIP and Fbx32 as E3-ligases involved in titin ubiquitination.
  37. Circ Res. 2021 Oct 27.
      Rationale: The NLRP3 inflammasome is an important driver of atherosclerosis. Our previous study shows that chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA), one of the main lysosomal degradative process, has a regulatory role in lipid metabolism of macrophage. However, whether the NLRP3 inflammasome is regulated by CMA and the role of CMA in atherosclerosis remain unclear. Objective: To determine the role of CMA in the regulation of NLRP3 inflammasome and atherosclerosis. Methods and Results: The expression of CMA marker, lysosome associated membrane protein type 2A (LAMP-2A), was first analyzed in ApoE-/- mouse aortas and human coronary atherosclerotic plaques and a significant down-regulation of LAMP-2A in advanced atherosclerosis in both mice and human was observed. To selectively block CMA, we generated macrophage-specific conditional LAMP-2A-knockout mouse strains in C57BL/6 mice and ApoE-/- mice. Deletion of macrophage LAMP-2A accelerated atherosclerotic lesion formation in the aortic root and the whole aorta in ApoE-/- mice. Mechanistically, LAMP-2A deficiency promoted NLRP3 inflammasome activation and subsequent release of mature IL-1β in macrophages and atherosclerotic plaques. Furthermore, gain-of-function studies verified that restoration of LAMP-2A levels in LAMP-2A-deficient macrophages greatly attenuated NLRP3 inflammasome activation. Importantly, we identified the NLRP3 protein as a CMA substrate and demonstrated that LAMP-2A deficiency did not affect the NLRP3 mRNA levels but hindered degradation of the NLRP3 protein through CMA pathway. Conclusions: CMA function becomes impaired during the progression of atherosclerosis, which increases NLRP3 inflammasome activation and secretion of IL-1β, promoting vascular inflammation and atherosclerosis progression. Our study unveils a new mechanism by which NLRP3 inflammasome is regulated in macrophages and atherosclerosis, thus providing a new insight into the role of autophagy-lysosomal pathway in atherosclerosis. Pharmacological activation of CMA may provide a novel therapeutic strategy for atherosclerosis and other NLRP3 inflammasome/IL-1β-driven diseases.
  38. Mol Biol Rep. 2021 Oct 29.
      BACKGROUND: Lactoferrin, as the main component of milk, can maintain osteoblast formation, which is conducive to the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. Lactoferrin also serves as an autophagy regulator, especially in osteoblasts. This study aimed to explore the significance of autophagy in osteoblast formation regulated by lactoferrin and the internal mechanism.METHODS AND RESULTS: In this study, we firstly explored the roles of lactoferrin in the autophagy activity of primary osteoblasts (LC3 transformation rate, autophagosome formation). Subsequently, we further investigated the effects of lactoferrin on the BCL2 expression and BCL2-Beclin1 complex. Ultimately, the significance of BCL2 overexpression and Beclin1 silencing on lactoferrin-regulated osteoblast autophagy and osteogenic parameters (ALP activity and mRNA expression of PCNA, Col1, BGLAP and OPN) was observed by gene processing, respectively. Our results showed that lactoferrin enhanced the autophagy activity of osteoblasts. Importantly, lactoferrin inhibited BCL2 expression and the co-immunoprecipitation of BCL2 and Beclin1 in osteoblasts. Moreover, lactoferrin-promoted autophagy and osteogenic parameters was reversed by BCL2 overexpression or Beclin1 silencing in osteoblasts.
    CONCLUSIONS: In conclusion, lactoferrin can inhibit BCL2 expression in osteoblasts, further enhancing Beclin1-dependent autophagy activation.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; BCL2; Beclin1; Lactoferrin; Osteoblasts
  39. Cell Syst. 2021 Oct 21. pii: S2405-4712(21)00382-3. [Epub ahead of print]
      Pancreatic cancer cells with limited access to free amino acids can grow by scavenging extracellular protein. In a murine model of pancreatic cancer, we performed a genome-wide CRISPR screen for genes required for scavenging-dependent growth. The screen identified key mediators of macropinocytosis, peripheral lysosome positioning, endosome-lysosome fusion, lysosomal protein catabolism, and translational control. The top hit was GCN2, a kinase that suppresses translation initiation upon amino acid depletion. Using isotope tracers, we show that GCN2 is not required for protein scavenging. Instead, GCN2 prevents ribosome stalling but without slowing protein synthesis; cells still use all of the limiting amino acids as they emerge from lysosomes. GCN2 also adapts gene expression to the nutrient-poor environment, reorienting protein synthesis away from ribosomes and toward lysosomal hydrolases, such as cathepsin L. GCN2, cathepsin L, and the other genes identified in the screen are potential therapeutic targets in pancreatic cancer.
    Keywords:  Cathepsin L; GCN2; PDAC; lysosomes; macropinocytosis; protein scavenging; protein synthesis; translation
  40. Exp Neurol. 2021 Oct 22. pii: S0014-4886(21)00308-3. [Epub ahead of print] 113900
      During the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease (PD), aggregation of alpha-synuclein (αSyn) induces a vicious cycle of cellular impairments that lead to neurodegeneration. Consequently, removing toxic αSyn aggregates constitutes a plausible strategy against PD. In this work, we tested whether stimulating the autolysosomal degradation of αSyn aggregates through the Ras-related in brain 7 (Rab7) pathway can reverse αSyn-induced cellular impairment and prevent neurodegeneration in vivo. The disease-related A53T mutant of αSyn was expressed in primary neurons and in dopaminergic neurons of the rat brain simultaneously with wild type (WT) Rab7 or the T22N mutant as negative control. The cellular integrity was quantified by morphological and biochemical analyses. In primary neurons, WT Rab7 rescued the αSyn-induced loss of neurons and neurites. Furthermore, Rab7 decreased the amount of reactive oxygen species and the amount of Triton X-100 insoluble αSyn. In rat brain, WT Rab7 reduced αSyn-induced loss of dopaminergic axon terminals in the striatum and the loss of dopaminergic dendrites in the substantia nigra pars reticulata. Further, WT Rab7 lowered αSyn pathology as quantified by phosphorylated αSyn staining. Finally, WT Rab7 attenuated αSyn-induced DNA damage in primary neurons and rat brain. In brief, Rab7 reduced αSyn-induced pathology, ameliorated αSyn-induced neuronal degeneration, oxidative stress and DNA damage. These findings indicate that Rab7 is able to disrupt the vicious cycle of cellular impairment, αSyn pathology and neurodegeneration present in PD. Stimulation of Rab7 and the autolysosomal degradation pathway could therefore constitute a beneficial strategy for PD.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; DNA damage; Neuroprotection; Oxidative stress; Parkinson's disease; Protein aggregation; Rab7; alpha-Synuclein
  41. J Cell Sci. 2021 Oct 27. pii: jcs.258699. [Epub ahead of print]
      Mammalian syntaxin 17 (Stx17) has several functions, other than membrane fusion, including mitochondrial division, autophagosome formation and lipid droplet expansion. Different from conventional syntaxins, Stx17 has a long C-terminal hydrophobic region with a hairpin-like structure flanked by a basic amino acid-enriched C-terminal tail. Although Stx17 is one of the six ancient SNAREs and present in diverse eukaryotic organisms, it has been lost in multiple lineages during evolution. In the present study, we compared the localization and function of fly and nematode Stx17s expressed in HeLa cells with those of human Stx17. We found that fly Stx17 predominantly localizes to the cytosol and mediates autophagy, but not mitochondrial division. Nematode Stx17, on the other hand, is predominantly present in mitochondria and facilitates mitochondrial division, but is irrelevant to autophagy. These differences are likely due to different structures in the C-terminal tail. Non-participation of fly Stx17 and nematode Stx17 in mitochondrial division and autophagy, respectively, was demonstrated in individual organisms. Our results provide an insight into the evolution of Stx17 in metazoa.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Evolution; Lipid droplet; Mitochondrial fission; Syntaxin 17
  42. Metabol Open. 2021 Dec;12 100138
      Objective: Increased fatty acid and triglyceride synthesis in liver, majorly modulated by Sterol Regulator Elementing Binding Protein 1c (SREBP1c), is one of the main features of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). In the present study, we aimed to identify the relation between SREBP1c and autophagy mediated lipid droplet (LD) catabolism in oleic acid (OA) induced lipid accumulation.Methods: Increased LD formation and SREBP1c induction were identified in hepatocytes (AML12 cells) following the OA administration. SREBP1c level was reduced through siRNA against SREBP1c. The amount and the size of LDs were determined by BODIPY, while protein and mRNA expressions were identified by immunoblotting and qRT-PCR, respectively. LD-lysosome colocalization was determined with immunofluorescence.
    Results: Increased LD formation and SREBP1c levels were determined at 0.06 mM OA concentration. SREBP1c silencing reduced the number of LDs, while increasing mRNA levels of PPARα. On the other hand, SREBP1c silencing in non-OA and OA treated cells enhanced autophagy mediated LD catabolism.
    Conclusion: Our results implicate the effect of SREBP1c deficiency in modulating PPARα signaling and autophagy mediated LD catabolism against OA induced lipid accumulation.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; FASN, Fatty acid synthase; LAMP1, Lysosomal-associated membrane protein 1; LC3, Microtubule-Associated Protein Light Chain 3; LD, Lipid droplet; Lipid accumulation; NAFLD, Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease; Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; OA, Oleic acid; PA, Palmitic acid; PPARα, Peroxisome proliferator activated receptor alpha; SCD-1, Stereoyl-CoA desaturase-1; SREBP, Sterol regulatory element binding protein; SREBP1c
  43. Cell Rep. 2021 Oct 26. pii: S2211-1247(21)01358-9. [Epub ahead of print]37(4): 109888
      Dysregulated inflammation dominated by chemokine expression is a key feature of disease following infection with the globally important human pathogens Zika virus (ZIKV) and dengue virus, but a mechanistic understanding of how pro-inflammatory responses are initiated is lacking. Mitophagy is a quality-control mechanism that regulates innate immune signaling and cytokine production through selective degradation of damaged mitochondria. Here, we demonstrate that ZIKV nonstructural protein 5 (NS5) antagonizes mitophagy by binding to the host protein Ajuba and preventing its translocation to depolarized mitochondria where it is required for PINK1 activation and downstream signaling. Consequent mitophagy suppression amplifies the production of pro-inflammatory chemokines through protein kinase R (PKR) sensing of mitochondrial RNA. In Ajuba-/- mice, ZIKV induces early expression of pro-inflammatory chemokines associated with significantly enhanced dissemination to tissues. This work identifies Ajuba as a critical regulator of mitophagy and demonstrates a role for mitophagy in limiting systemic inflammation following infection by globally important human viruses.
    Keywords:  PINK1; PKR; Parkin; Zika virus; chemokines; flavivirus; mitochondria; mitophagy; mtRNA; pathogenesis
  44. Peptides. 2021 Oct 22. pii: S0196-9781(21)00185-6. [Epub ahead of print] 170677
      Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide (CGRP) is a potent vasodilator peptide widely distributed in the central nervous system and various peripheral tissues, including cardiac muscle. However, its role in heart protein metabolism remains unknown. We examined the acute effects of CGRP on autophagy and the related signaling pathways in the heart mice and cultured neonatal cardiomyocytes. CGRP (100 μg kg-1; s.c.) or 0.9% saline was injected in awake male C57B16 mice, and the metabolic profile was determined up to 60 min. In fed mice, CGRP drastically increased glycemia and reduced insulinemia, an effect that was accompanied by reduced cardiac phosphorylation levels of Akt at Ser473 without affecting FoxO. Despite these catabolic effects, CGRP acutely inhibited autophagy as estimated by the decrease in LC3II:LC3I and autophagic flux. In addition, the fasting-induced autophagic flux in mice hearts was entirely abrogated by one single injection of CGRP. In parallel, CGRP stimulated PKA/CREB and mTORC1 signaling and increased the phosphorylation of Unc51-like kinase-1 (ULK1), an essential protein in autophagy initiation. Similar effects were observed in cardiomyocytes, in which CGRP also inhibited autophagic flux and stimulated Akt and FoxO phosphorylation. These findings suggest that CGRP in vivo acutely suppresses autophagy in the heart of fed and fasted mice, most likely through the activation of PKA/mTORC1 signaling but independent of Akt.
    Keywords:  CGRP; autophagy; heart; protein metabolism
  45. J Biomed Sci. 2021 Oct 27. 28(1): 72
      BACKGROUND: During autophagy defense against invading microbes, certain lipid types are indispensable for generating specialized membrane-bound organelles. The lipid composition of autophagosomes remains obscure, as does the issue of how specific lipids and lipid-associated enzymes participate in autophagosome formation and maturation. Helicobacter pylori is auxotrophic for cholesterol and converts cholesterol to cholesteryl glucoside derivatives, including cholesteryl 6'-O-acyl-α-D-glucoside (CAG). We investigated how CAG and its biosynthetic acyltransferase assist H. pylori to escape host-cell autophagy.METHODS: We applied a metabolite-tagging method to obtain fluorophore-containing cholesteryl glucosides that were utilized to understand their intracellular locations. H. pylori 26695 and a cholesteryl glucosyltransferase (CGT)-deletion mutant (ΔCGT) were used as the standard strain and the negative control that contains no cholesterol-derived metabolites, respectively. Bacterial internalization and several autophagy-related assays were conducted to unravel the possible mechanism that H. pylori develops to hijack the host-cell autophagy response. Subcellular fractions of H. pylori-infected AGS cells were obtained and measured for the acyltransferase activity.
    RESULTS: The imaging studies of fluorophore-labeled cholesteryl glucosides pinpointed their intracellular localization in AGS cells. The result indicated that CAG enhances the internalization of H. pylori in AGS cells. Particularly, CAG, instead of CG and CPG, is able to augment the autophagy response induced by H. pylori. How CAG participates in the autophagy process is multifaceted. CAG was found to intervene in the degradation of autophagosomes and reduce lysosomal biogenesis, supporting the idea that intracellular H. pylori is harbored by autophago-lysosomes in favor of the bacterial survival. Furthermore, we performed the enzyme activity assay of subcellular fractions of H. pylori-infected AGS cells. The analysis showed that the acyltransferase is mainly distributed in autophago-lysosomal compartments.
    CONCLUSIONS: Our results support the idea that the acyltransferase is mainly distributed in the subcellular compartment consisting of autophagosomes, late endosomes, and lysosomes, in which the acidic environment is beneficial for the maximal acyltransferase activity. The resulting elevated level of CAG can facilitate bacterial internalization, interfere with the autophagy flux, and causes reduced lysosomal biogenesis.
    Keywords:  Autophagosomes; Autophagy; Autophagy flux; Bacterial internalization; Cholesteryl glucosides; H. pylori; Lipid-raft clustering; Lysosome biogenesis; Lysosomes
  46. Sci Rep. 2021 Oct 28. 11(1): 21268
      Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most frequent liver disease worldwide and can progress to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which is characterized by triglyceride accumulation, inflammation, and fibrosis. No pharmacological agents are currently approved to treat these conditions, but it is clear now that modulation of lipid synthesis and autophagy are key biological mechanisms that could help reduce or prevent these liver diseases. The folliculin (FLCN) protein has been recently identified as a central regulatory node governing whole body energy homeostasis, and we hypothesized that FLCN regulates highly metabolic tissues like the liver. We thus generated a liver specific Flcn knockout mouse model to study its role in liver disease progression. Using the methionine- and choline-deficient diet to mimic liver fibrosis, we demonstrate that loss of Flcn reduced triglyceride accumulation, fibrosis, and inflammation in mice. In this aggressive liver disease setting, loss of Flcn led to activation of transcription factors TFEB and TFE3 to promote autophagy, promoting the degradation of intracellular lipid stores, ultimately resulting in reduced hepatocellular damage and inflammation. Hence, the activity of FLCN could be a promising target for small molecule drugs to treat liver fibrosis by specifically activating autophagy. Collectively, these results show an unexpected role for Flcn in fatty liver disease progression and highlight new potential treatment strategies.
  47. Cell Death Dis. 2021 Oct 29. 12(11): 1016
      Both endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and autophagy have been implicated in chronic kidney injury and renal fibrosis. However, the relationship and regulatory mechanisms between ER stress and autophagy under this condition remain largely unknown. In this study, we first established a mouse model of ER stress-induced chronic kidney injury by 2 weekly injections of a low dose of tunicamycin (TM), a classical ER stress inducer. This model showed the induction of ER stress, autophagy, fibrosis and apoptosis in kidney tissues. In vitro, TM also induced ER stress, autophagy, fibrosis and apoptosis in HK-2 human kidney proximal tubular cells and BUMPT-306 mouse kidney proximal tubular cells. In these cells, autophagy inhibitor suppressed TM-induced fibrotic changes and apoptosis, suggesting an involvement of autophagy in ER stress-associated chronic kidney injury. PERK inhibitor ameliorated autophagy, fibrotic protein expression and apoptosis in TM-treated cells, indicating a role of the PERK/eIF2α pathway in autophagy activation during ER stress. Similar results were shown in TGF-β1-treated HK-2 cells. Interestingly, in both TM- or TGF-β1-treated kidney proximal tubular cells, inhibition of autophagy exaggerated ER stress, suggesting that autophagy induced by ER stress provides a negative feedback mechanism to reduce the stress. Together, these results unveil a reciprocal regulation between ER stress and autophagy in chronic kidney injury and fibrosis.
  48. iScience. 2021 Nov 19. 24(11): 103177
      The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a serine-threonine kinase involved in cellular innate immunity, metabolism, and senescence. FK506-binding protein 12 (FKBP12) inhibits mTOR kinase activity via direct association. The FKBP12-mTOR association can be strengthened by the immunosuppressant rapamycin, but the underlying mechanism remains elusive. We show here that the FKBP12-mTOR association is tightly regulated by an acetylation-deacetylation cycle. FKBP12 is acetylated on the lysine cluster (K45/K48/K53) by CREB-binding protein (CBP) in mammalian cells in response to nutrient treatment. Acetyl-FKBP12 associates with CBP acetylated Rheb. Rapamycin recruits SIRT2 with a high affinity for FKBP12 association and deacetylation. SIRT2-deacetylated FKBP12 then switches its association from Rheb to mTOR. Nutrient-activated mTOR phosphorylates IRF3S386 for the antiviral response. In contrast, rapamycin strengthening FKBP12-mTOR association blocks mTOR antiviral activity by recruiting SIRT2 to deacetylate FKBP12. Hence, on/off mTOR activity in response to environmental nutrients relies on FKBP12 acetylation and deacetylation status in mammalian cells.
    Keywords:  Biochemistry; Molecular biology; Protein
  49. Toxicology. 2021 Oct 22. pii: S0300-483X(21)00321-8. [Epub ahead of print]464 152999
      Nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) serves as the master regulator of antioxidant signaling and inhibition or hyperactivation of Nrf2 pathway will result in the redox imbalance to induce tissue injury. Herein, we established cadmium (Cd)-exposed rat kidney injury model by intraperitoneal injection with CdCl2 (1.5 mg/kg body weight) and cytotoxicity model of NRK-52E cells by CdCl2 (5 μM) exposure to reveal the role of Nrf2 hyperactivation in Cd-induced nephrotoxicity. Data from the in vitro and in vivo study showed that Cd caused Nrf2 nuclear retention due to nuclear-cytoplasmic depletion of Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1) and Sequestosome-1(SQSTM1/p62) accumulation, leading to the persistent activation of Nrf2. Moreover, we established inhibited models of Cd-induced prolonged Nrf2 activation using siRNA-mediated gene silencing in vitro and pharmacological inhibition in vivo for subsequent assays. First, Cd-induced cytotoxicity, renal injury and concomitant oxidative stress were markedly alleviated by Nrf2 inhibition. Second, Cd-induced autophagy inhibition was notably alleviated by Nrf2 inhibition. Further, we revealed underlying molecular mechanisms of the crosstalk between persistent activation of Nrf2 and autophagy inhibition in Cd-induced nephrotoxicity. Data showed that Cd-induced lysosomal dysfunction evidenced by impaired lysosomal biogenesis and degradation capacity was markedly recovered by Nrf2 inhibition. Meanwhile, Cd-impaired autophagosome-lysosome fusion was obviously restored by Nrf2 inhibition. In conclusion, our findings revealed that persistent activation of Nrf2 promoted a vicious cycle of oxidative stress and autophagy inhibition in Cd-induced nephrotoxicity.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Cadmium; Lysosome; Nephrotoxicity; Nrf2; Oxidative stress
  50. Brain Commun. 2021 ;3(3): fcab208
      Neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by the selective degeneration of neuronal populations in different brain regions and frequently the formation of distinct protein aggregates that often overlap between diseases. While the causes of many sporadic neurodegenerative diseases are unclear, genes associated with familial or sporadic forms of disease and the underlying cellular pathways involved tend to support common disease mechanisms. Underscoring this concept, mutations in the Vacuolar Protein Sorting 35 Orthologue (VPS35) gene have been identified to cause late-onset, autosomal dominant familial Parkinson's disease, whereas reduced VPS35 protein levels are reported in vulnerable brain regions of subjects with Alzheimer's disease, neurodegenerative tauopathies such as progressive supranuclear palsy and Pick's disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Therefore, VPS35 is commonly implicated in many neurodegenerative diseases. VPS35 plays a critical role in the retromer complex that mediates the retrieval and recycling of transmembrane protein cargo from endosomes to the trans-Golgi network or plasma membrane. VPS35 and retromer function are highly conserved in eukaryotic cells, with the homozygous deletion of VPS35 inducing early embryonic lethality in mice that has hindered an understanding of its role in the brain. Here, we develop conditional knockout mice with the selective deletion of VPS35 in neurons to better elucidate its role in neuronal viability and its connection to neurodegenerative diseases. Surprisingly, the pan-neuronal deletion of VPS35 induces a progressive and rapid disease with motor deficits and early post-natal lethality. Underlying this neurological phenotype is the relatively selective and robust degeneration of motor neurons in the spinal cord. Neuronal loss is accompanied and preceded by the formation of p62-positive protein inclusions and robust reactive astrogliosis. Our study reveals a critical yet unappreciated role for VPS35 function in the normal maintenance and survival of motor neurons during post-natal development that has important implications for neurodegenerative diseases, particularly amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
    Keywords:  VPS35; motor neurons; neurodegeneration; retromer
  51. Adipocyte. 2021 Dec;10(1): 532-545
      Verapamil can restore intracellular calcium homeostasis, increase the fusion of autophagosomes and lysosomes, reduce lipid droplet accumulation and inhibit inflammation and insulin resistance in high-fat-fed mice. The present study aimed to investigate verapamil's effect and its underlying liver regeneration mechanism in mice with non-alcoholic fatty liver. After 50% hepatectomy was performed, the changes of autophagy and liver regeneration were evaluated by detecting cell proliferation and autophagy at each time point. Then, 25mg/kg verapamil was injected intraperitoneally for 10 d before an operation in the mild to moderate fatty liver and severe fatty liver groups. The control group and mild to moderate fatty liver group reached the peak of proliferation at 24-48h after operation, and the mice with severe fatty liver and steatohepatitis reached the peak at 48-72h. Autophagy in the normal group and mild to moderate fatty liver group reached the peak 48 hours after operation. Verapamil injection can enhance autophagy, reduce the weight of fatty liver mice, improve liver function and liver regeneration. Verapamil can induce autophagy, improve hepatocyte function and promote hepatocyte regeneration through the mTOR independent signaling pathway, thus improving the process of liver regeneration after partial hepatectomy.
    Keywords:  Verapamil; autophagy; liver regeneration; non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  52. Biomed Pharmacother. 2021 Oct 23. pii: S0753-3322(21)01133-1. [Epub ahead of print]144 112349
      Membranous nephropathy (MN) is the most common cause of nephrotic syndrome in adults without diabetes. Primary MN has been associated with circulating antibodies against native podocyte antigens, including phospholipase A2 receptor (PLA2R); however, precision therapy targeting the signaling cascade of PLA2R activation is lacking. Both PLA2R and the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) exist in podocytes, but the interplay between these two proteins and their roles in MN warrants further exploration. This study aimed to investigate the crosstalk between PLA2R activation and mTOR signaling in a human podocyte cell line. We demonstrated that podocyte apoptosis was induced by Group IB secretory phospholipase A2 (sPLA2IB) in a concentration- and time-dependent manner via upregulation of phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K), protein kinase B (AKT), and mTOR, and inhibited by rapamycin or LY294002. Furthermore, aberrant activation of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway triggers both extrinsic (caspase-8 and caspase-3) and intrinsic (Bcl-2-associated X protein [BAX], B-cell lymphoma 2 [BCL-2], cytochrome c, caspase-9, and caspase-3) apoptotic cascades in podocytes. The therapeutic implications of our findings are that strategies to reduce PLA2R activation and PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway inhibition in PLA2R-activated podocytes help protect podocytes from apoptosis. The therapeutic potential of rapamycin shown in this study provides cellular evidence supporting the repurposing of rapamycin for MN treatment.
    Keywords:  Mammalian target of rapamycin; Membranous nephropathy; Phospholipase A2 receptor; Podocyte
  53. Nat Commun. 2021 Oct 27. 12(1): 6198
      Optineurin (OPTN) has important functions in diverse biological processes and diseases, but its effect on dendritic cell (DC) differentiation and functionality remains elusive. Here we show that OPTN is upregulated in human and mouse DC maturation, and that deletion of Optn in mice via CD11c-Cre attenuates DC maturation and impairs the priming of CD4+ T cells, thus ameliorating autoimmune symptoms such as experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). Mechanistically, OPTN binds to the JH1 domain of JAK2 and inhibits JAK2 dimerization and phosphorylation, thereby preventing JAK2-STAT3 interaction and inhibiting STAT3 phosphorylation to suppress downstream transcription of IL-10. Without such a negative regulation, Optn-deficient DCs eventually induce an IL-10/JAK2/STAT3/IL-10 positive feedback loop to suppress DC maturation. Finally, the natural product, Saikosaponin D, is identified as an OPTN inhibitor, effectively inhibiting the immune-stimulatory function of DCs and the disease progression of EAE in mice. Our findings thus highlight a pivotal function of OPTN for the regulation of DC functions and autoimmune disorders.
  54. Neurosci Lett. 2021 Oct 22. pii: S0304-3940(21)00679-0. [Epub ahead of print] 136300
      Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a common neurodegenerative disease which is characterized by amyloid beta (Aβ) accumulation. We found that glycoprotein NMB (GPNMB) was highly expressed in the brain of APP/PS1 mice, a mouse model of AD. However, its role in AD remains unclear. In this study, we aimed to explore the function of GPNMB in AD. The expression of GPNMB in the brain was detected by immunofluorescence and western blot. In addition, the role of GPNMB in AD was explored through gain-of-function. Autophagy, which is beneficial to Aβ clearance, was evaluated by transmission electron microscope and immunofluorescence with beclin-1. Furthermore, 3-MA, an autophagy inhibitor, was employed to evidence whether GPNMB reduced the level of Aβ through autophagy. We found that over-expression of GPNMB improved AD-like behaviors in APP/PS1 mice and reduced Aβ deposition. Further study showed that GPNMB enhanced autophagy, reduced microglial cells and inhibited the activation of the mTOR signal. Additionally, treatment with 3-MA abolished the beneficial effect of GPNMB on Aβ clearance. This study revealed that the high level of GPNMB in AD brain may help Aβ clearance and improve AD-like behaviors through enhancing autophagy via suppressing the mTOR signal. This beneficial role of GPNMB provides us novel strategies for the prevention and treatment of AD.
    Keywords:  Alzheimer’s disease; GPNMB; amyloid beta; autophagy; mTOR