bims-auttor Biomed News
on Autophagy and mTOR
Issue of 2021‒12‒19
forty-nine papers selected by
Viktor Korolchuk, Newcastle University

  1. Oncogene. 2021 Dec 14.
      In recent years the tumor suppressor p53 has been increasingly recognized as a potent regulator of the cell metabolism and for its ability to inhibit the critical pro-survival kinases AKT and mTOR. The mechanisms through which p53 controls AKT and mTOR, however, are largely unclear. Here, we demonstrate that p53 activates the metabolic regulator DDIT4 indirectly through the regulatory factor X 7 (RFX7). We provide evidence that DDIT4 is required for p53 to inhibit mTOR complex 2 (mTORC2)-dependent AKT activation. Most strikingly, we also find that the DDIT4 regulator RFX7 is required for p53-mediated inhibition of mTORC1 and AKT. Our results suggest that AMPK activation plays no role and p53-mediated AKT inhibition is not critical for p53-mediated mTORC1 inhibition. Moreover, using recently developed physiological cell culture media we uncover that basal p53 and RFX7 activity can play a critical role in restricting mTORC1 activity under physiological nutrient conditions, and we propose a nutrient-dependent model for p53-RFX7-mediated mTORC1 inhibition. These results establish RFX7 and its downstream target DDIT4 as essential effectors in metabolic control elicited by p53.
  2. J Biol Chem. 2021 Dec 14. pii: S0021-9258(21)01304-1. [Epub ahead of print] 101494
      Changing physiological conditions can increase the need for protein degradative capacity in eukaryotic cells. Both the ubiquitin-proteasome system and autophagy contribute to protein degradation. However, these processes can be differently regulated depending on the physiological conditions. Strikingly, proteasomes themselves can be a substrate for autophagy. The signals and molecular mechanisms that govern proteasome autophagy (proteaphagy) are only partly understood. Here, we used immunoblots, native gel analyses, and fluorescent microscopy to understand the regulation of proteaphagy in response to genetic and small molecule-induced perturbations. Our data indicate that chemical inhibition of the master nutrient sensor TORC1 (inhibition of which induces general autophagy) with rapamycin induces a bi-phasic response where proteasome levels are upregulated followed by an autophagy-dependent reduction. Surprisingly, several conditions that result in inhibited TORC1, such as caffeinine treatment or nitrogen starvation, only induced proteaphagy (i.e. without any proteasome upregulation), suggesting a convergence of signals upstream of proteaphagy under different physiological conditions. Indeed, we found that several conditions that activated general autophagy did not induce proteaphagy, further distinguishing proteaphagy from general autophagy. Consistent with this, we show that Atg11, a selective autophagy receptor, as well as the MAP kinases Mpk1, Mkk1, and Mkk2 all play a role in autophagy of proteasomes, while they are dispensable for general autophagy. Taken together, our data provide new insights into the molecular regulation of proteaphagy by demonstrating that degradation of proteasome complexes is specifically regulated under different autophagy-inducing conditions.
    Keywords:  autophagy; proteaphagy; proteasome; proteasome inhibitor; protein degradation; starvation; target of rapamycin (TOR); vacuole; yeast
  3. FEBS J. 2021 May 02.
      Autophagy is an essential intracellular process for cellular quality control. It enables cell homeostasis through the selective degradation of harmful protein aggregates and damaged organelles. Autophagy is essential for recycling nutrients, generating energy to maintain cell viability in most tissues and during adverse conditions such as hypoxia/ischaemia. The progressive understanding of the mechanisms modulating autophagy in the vasculature has recently led numerous studies to link intact autophagic responses with endothelial cell (EC) homeostasis and function. Preserved autophagic flux within the ECs has an essential role in maintaining their physiological characteristics, whereas defective autophagy can promote endothelial pro-inflammatory and atherogenic phenotype. However, we still lack a good knowledge of the complete molecular repertoire controlling various aspects of endothelial autophagy and how this is associated with vascular diseases. Here, we provide an overview of the current state of the art of autophagy in ECs. We review the discoveries that have so far defined autophagy as an essential mechanism in vascular biology and analyse how autophagy influences ECs behaviour in vascular disease. Finally, we emphasise opportunities for compounds to regulate autophagy in ECs and discuss the challenges of exploiting them to resolve vascular disease.
    Keywords:  autophagy; endothelial cells; inflammation; senescence; therapeutic modulation; vascular disease
  4. J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2021 Dec 14. pii: S0022-2828(21)00233-9. [Epub ahead of print]
      Autophagy mediates cellular quality control mechanisms and energy homeostasis through lysosomal degradation. Autophagy is typically viewed as an adaptive process that allows cells to survive against stress, such as nutrient deprivation and hypoxia. However, autophagy also mediates cell death during development and in response to stress. Cell death accompanied by autophagy activation and accumulation of autophagosomes has been classified as type II programmed cell death. Compared to the wealth of knowledge regarding the adaptive role of autophagy, however, the molecular mechanisms through which autophagy induces cell death and its functional significance are poorly understood. Autophagy is activated excessively under some conditions, causing uncontrolled degradation of cellular materials and cell death. An imbalance between autophagosome formation and lysosomal degradation causes a massive accumulation of autophagosomes, which subsequently causes cellular dysfunction and death. Dysregulation of autophagy induces a unique form of cell death, termed autosis, with defined morphological and biochemical features distinct from other forms of programmed cell death, such as apoptosis and necrosis. In the heart, dysregulated autophagy induces death of cardiomyocytes and actively mediates cardiac injury and dysfunction in some conditions, including reperfusion injury, doxorubicin cardiomyopathy, and lysosomal storage disorders. The goal in this review is to introduce the concept of autophagic cell death and discuss its functional significance in various cardiac conditions.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Autosis; Cardiac glycosides; Cardiomyocytes; Cell death
  5. FASEB J. 2022 Jan;36(1): e22062
      Mitochondrial dysfunction or loss of homeostasis is a central hallmark of many human diseases. Mitochondrial homeostasis is mediated by multiple quality control mechanisms including mitophagy, a form of selective autophagy that recycles terminally ill or dysfunctional mitochondria in order to preserve mitochondrial integrity. Our prior studies have shown that members of the insulin-like growth factor (IGF) family localize to the mitochondria and may play important roles in mediating mitochondrial health in the corneal epithelium, an integral tissue that is required for the maintenance of optical transparency and vision. Importantly, the IGF-binding protein-3, IGFBP-3, is secreted by corneal epithelial cells in response to stress and functions to mediate intracellular receptor trafficking in this cell type. In this study, we demonstrate a novel role for IGFBP-3 in mitochondrial homeostasis through regulation of the short isoform (s)BNIP3L/NIX mitophagy receptor in corneal epithelial cells and extend this finding to non-ocular epithelial cells. We further show that IGFBP-3-mediated control of mitochondrial homeostasis is associated with alterations in lamellar cristae morphology and mitochondrial dynamics. Interestingly, both loss and gain of function of IGFBP-3 drive an increase in mitochondrial respiration. This increase in respiration is associated with nuclear accumulation of IGFBP-3. Taken together, these findings support a novel role for IGFBP-3 as a key mediator of mitochondrial health in mucosal epithelia through the regulation of mitophagy and mitochondrial morphology.
    Keywords:  autophagy; insulin-like growth factor type 1 receptor; mTOR; metabolism; mitochondria
  6. Nat Aging. 2021 Aug;1(8): 634-650
      Autophagy is a fundamental cellular process that eliminates molecules and subcellular elements, including nucleic acids, proteins, lipids and organelles, via lysosome-mediated degradation to promote homeostasis, differentiation, development and survival. While autophagy is intimately linked to health, the intricate relationship among autophagy, aging and disease remains unclear. This Review examines several emerging features of autophagy and postulates how they may be linked to aging as well as to the development and progression of disease. In addition, we discuss current preclinical evidence arguing for the use of autophagy modulators as suppressors of age-related pathologies such as neurodegenerative diseases. Finally, we highlight key questions and propose novel research avenues that will likely reveal new links between autophagy and the hallmarks of aging. Understanding the precise interplay between autophagy and the risk of age-related pathologies across organisms will eventually facilitate the development of clinical applications that promote long-term health.
  7. Sci Rep. 2021 Dec 13. 11(1): 23907
      FIP200 is an essential autophagy gene implicated in the regulation of postnatal neural progenitor/stem cells (NSCs). However, the contribution of FIP200's canonical-autophagy function and its non-canonical functions to postnatal NSC maintenance remains unclear. Utilizing a recently generated Fip200-4A allele that specifically impairs FIP200's canonical-autophagy function, we found that non-canonical functions of FIP200 was required for regulation of mouse NSC maintenance and neurogenesis in vivo. Ablating the non-canonical functions of FIP200, but not its autophagy function, increased TBK1 activation and p62 phosphorylation at S403 in NSCs. Phosphorylation of p62 was dependent on TBK1 kinase activity and increased the propensity of p62 aggregate formation specifically in FIP200-null NSCs. Accordingly, inhibition of TBK1 by amlexanox reduced p62 aggregates and restored NSC maintenance and differentiation in Fip200hGFAP cKO mice. These results reveal a mechanism for the non-canonical functions of FIP200 in NSC maintenance and differentiation by limiting TBK1 activation and subsequently, p62 aggregate formation.
  8. Assay Drug Dev Technol. 2021 Dec 13.
      Autophagy is a process leading to the degradation of cellular material, in organelles called lysosomes, to supply energy or generate building blocks for the synthesis of new materials. Over the past decades, its role has been evidenced in several indications, notably in neurodegenerative disorders and orphan diseases called lysosomal storage disorders and its modulation is largely envisioned as a therapeutic avenue to alleviate the symptoms and reverse the clinical courses of these indications. Identifying new chemical classes and drugs is, hence, of huge importance. In this study, we developed automated assays to assess the potential efficacy of chemical compounds on different steps of autophagy, notably its induction through the localization of a largely involved transcription factor, transcription factor EB (TFEB). These assays were then used to screen a collection of 1,520 approved drugs. This study led to the identification of five candidate hits modulating autophagy and TFEB subcellular localization. Our results suggest the repurposing potential of already approved drugs in central nervous system disorders with lysosomal storage impairments.
    Keywords:  LC3; TFEB; autophagy; lysosome
  9. Aging Cell. 2021 Dec 14. e13532
      The "rejuvenating" effect of growth differentiation factor 11 (GDF11) is called into question recently, and its role, as well as plausible signaling mechanisms in liver senescence, is unclear. To overexpress or knockdown GDF11, aged male mice are injected with a single dose of adeno-associated viruses-GDF11 or adenovirus-small hairpin RNA-GDF11, respectively. GDF11 overexpression significantly accelerates liver senescence in aged mice, whereas GDF11 knockdown has opposite effects. Concomitantly, autophagic flux is impaired in livers from GDF11 overexpression mice. Conversely, GDF11 knockdown increases autophagic flux. Moreover, rapamycin successfully restores the impaired autophagic flux and alleviates liver senescence in GDF11 overexpression mice, while the GDF11 knockdown-mediated benefits are abolished by the autophagy inhibitor bafilomycin A1. GDF11 leads to a drop in lysosomal biogenesis resulting in defective autophagic flux at autophagosome clearance step. Mechanistically, GDF11 significantly activates mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) and subsequently represses transcription factor EB (TFEB), a master regulator of lysosomal biogenesis and autophagy. Inhibition of mTORC1 or TFEB overexpression rescues the GDF11-impaired autophagic flux and cellular senescence. Hepatocyte-specific deletion of GDF11 does not alter serum GDF11 levels and liver senescence. Collectively, suppression of autophagic activity via mTORC1/TFEB signaling may be a critical molecular mechanism by which GDF11 exacerbates liver senescence. Rather than a "rejuvenating" agent, GDF11 may have a detrimental effect on liver senescence.
    Keywords:  autophagy; hepatocyte; liver; senescence
  10. Curr Res Pharmacol Drug Discov. 2021 ;2 100033
      Autophagy is a critical metabolic process that supports homeostasis at a basal level and is dynamically regulated in response to various physiological and pathological processes. Autophagy has some etiologic implications that support certain pathological processes due to alterations in the lysosomal-degradative pathway. Some of the conditions related to autophagy play key roles in highly relevant human diseases, e.g., cardiovascular diseases (15.5%), malignant and other neoplasms (9.4%), and neurodegenerative conditions (3.7%). Despite advances in the discovery of new strategies to treat these age-related diseases, autophagy has emerged as a therapeutic option after preclinical and clinical studies. Here, we discuss the pitfalls and success in regulating autophagy initiation and its lysosome-dependent pathway to restore its homeostatic role and mediate therapeutic effects for cancer, neurodegenerative, and cardiac diseases. The main challenge for the development of autophagy regulators for clinical application is the lack of specificity of the repurposed drugs, due to the low pharmacological uniqueness of their target, including those that target the PI3K/AKT/mTOR and AMPK pathway. Then, future efforts must be conducted to deal with this scenery, including the disclosure of key components in the autophagy machinery that may intervene in its therapeutic regulation. Among all efforts, those focusing on the development of novel allosteric inhibitors against autophagy inducers, as well as those targeting autolysosomal function, and their integration into therapeutic regimens should remain a priority for the field.
    Keywords:  Activation/inhibition of autophagy; Autophagy-targeted therapy; Cancer; Cardiac or cardiovascular diseases; Neurodegenerative disorders
  11. Zool Res. 2022 Jan 18. pii: 2095-8137(2022)01-0098-13. [Epub ahead of print]43(1): 98-110
      As a highly important fish virus, nervous necrosis virus (NNV) has caused severe economic losses to the aquaculture industry worldwide. Autophagy, an evolutionarily conserved intracellular degradation process, is involved in the pathogenesis of several viruses. Although NNV can induce autophagy to facilitate infection in grouper fish spleen cells, how it initiates and mediates autophagy pathways during the initial stage of infection is still unclear. Here, we found that red-spotted grouper NNV (RGNNV) induced autophagosome formation in two fish cell lines at 1.5 and 3 h post infection, indicating that autophagy is activated upon entry of RGNNV. Moreover, autophagic detection showed that RGNNV entry induced incomplete autophagy by impairing the fusion of autophagosomes with lysosomes. Further investigation revealed that binding of the RGNNV capsid protein (CP) to the Lateolabrax japonicus heat shock protein HSP90ab1 (LjHSP90ab1), a cell surface receptor of RGNNV, contributed to RGNNV invasion-induced autophagy. Finally, we found that CP blocked the interaction of L. japonicus protein kinase B (AKT) with LjHSP90ab1 by competitively binding the NM domain of LjHSP90ab1 to inhibit the AKT-mechanistic target of the rapamycin (MTOR) pathway. This study provides novel insight into the relationship between NNV receptors and autophagy, which may help clarify the pathogenesis of NNV.
    Keywords:  AKT-MTOR pathway; Autophagy; CP; HSP90ab1; NNV
  12. Aging (Albany NY). 2021 Dec 17. 13(undefined):
      Autophagy is an important cellular mechanism for maintaining cellular homeostasis, and its impairment correlates highly with age and age-related diseases. Retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells of the eye represent a crucial model for studying autophagy, as RPE functions and integrity are highly dependent on an efficient autophagic process. Cysteinyl leukotriene receptor 1 (CysLTR1) acts in immunoregulation and cellular stress responses and is a potential regulator of basal and adaptive autophagy. As basal autophagy is a dynamic process, the aim of this study was to define the role of CysLTR1 in autophagy regulation in a chronobiologic context using the ARPE-19 human RPE cell line. Effects of CysLTR1 inhibition on basal autophagic activity were analyzed at inactive/low and high lysosomal degradation activity with the antagonists zafirlukast (ZTK) and montelukast (MTK) at a dosage of 100 nM for 3 hours. Abundances of the autophagy markers LC3-II and SQSTM1 and LC3B particles were analyzed in the absence and presence of lysosomal inhibitors using western blot analysis and immunofluorescence microscopy. CysLTR1 antagonization revealed a biphasic effect of CysLTR1 on autophagosome formation and lysosomal degradation that depended on the autophagic activity of cells at treatment initiation. ZTK and MTK affected lysosomal degradation, but only ZTK regulated autophagosome formation. In addition, dexamethasone treatment and serum shock induced autophagy, which was repressed by CysLTR1 antagonization. As a newly identified autophagy modulator, CysLTR1 appears to be a key player in the chronobiological regulation of basal autophagy and adaptive autophagy in RPE cells.
    Keywords:  CysLTR1; LC3B; autophagy; lysosomal degradation; retinal pigment epithelial cells
  13. Eur J Cell Biol. 2021 Nov 14. pii: S0171-9335(21)00036-4. [Epub ahead of print]101(1): 151185
      The PINK1/Parkin pathway plays an important role in maintaining a healthy pool of mitochondria. Activation of this pathway can lead to apoptosis, mitophagy, or mitochondrial-derived vesicle formation, depending on the nature of mitochondrial damage. The signaling by which PINK/Parkin activation leads to these different mitochondrial outcomes remains understudied. Here we present evidence that cannabidiol (CBD) activates the PINK1-Parkin pathway in a unique manner. CBD stimulates PINK1-dependent Parkin mitochondrial recruitment similarly to other well-studied Parkin activators but with a distinctive shift in the temporal dynamics and mitochondrial fates. The mitochondrial permeability transition pore inhibitor cyclosporine A exclusively diminished the CBD-induced PINK1/Parkin activation and its associated mitochondrial effects. Unexpectedly, CBD treatment also induced elevated production of mitochondrial-derived vesicles (MDV), a potential quality control mechanism that may help repair partial damaged mitochondria. Our results suggest that CBD may engage the PINK1-Parkin pathway to produce MDV and repair mitochondrial lesions via mitochondrial permeability transition pore opening. This work uncovered a novel link between CBD and PINK1/Parkin-dependent MDV production in mitochondrial health regulation.
    Keywords:  Cannabidiol; Mitochondrial quality control; Mitochondrial-derived vesicles (MDV); Mitophagy; PINK; Parkin
  14. Cell Biosci. 2021 Dec 17. 11(1): 214
      Autophagy is a cell self-digestion pathway through lysosome and plays a critical role in maintaining cellular homeostasis and cytoprotection. Characterization of autophagy related genes in cell and animal models reveals diverse physiological functions of autophagy in various cell types and tissues. In central nervous system, by recycling injured organelles and misfolded protein complexes or aggregates, autophagy is integrated into synaptic functions of neurons and subjected to distinct regulation in presynaptic and postsynaptic neuronal compartments. A plethora of studies have shown the neuroprotective function of autophagy in major neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease (AD), Parkinson's disease (PD), Huntington's disease (HD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Recent human genetic and genomic evidence has demonstrated an emerging, significant role of autophagy in human brain development and prevention of spectrum of neurodevelopmental disorders. Here we will review the evidence demonstrating the causal link of autophagy deficiency to congenital brain diseases, the mechanism whereby autophagy functions in neurodevelopment, and therapeutic potential of autophagy.
    Keywords:  Autism; Neurodevelopmental disorders; Neurogenesis; Neuronal autophagy; Synaptic development
  15. Essays Biochem. 2021 Dec 13. pii: EBC20210036. [Epub ahead of print]
      PTEN-induced kinase 1 (PINK1) impacts cell health and human pathology through diverse pathways. The strict processing of full-length PINK1 on the outer mitochondrial membrane populates a cytoplasmic pool of cleaved PINK1 (cPINK1) that is constitutively degraded. However, despite rapid proteasomal clearance, cPINK1 still appears to exert quality control influence over the neuronal protein homeostasis network, including protein synthesis and degradation machineries. The cytoplasmic concentration and activity of this molecule is therefore a powerful sensor that coordinates aspects of mitochondrial and cellular health. In addition, full-length PINK1 is retained on the mitochondrial membrane following depolarisation, where it is a powerful inducer of multiple mitophagic pathways. This function is executed primarily through the phosphorylation of several ubiquitin ligases, including its most widely studied substrate Parkin. Furthermore, the phosphorylation of both pro- and anti-apoptotic proteins by mitochondrial PINK1 acts as a pro-cellular survival signal when faced with apoptotic stimuli. Through these varied roles PINK1 directly influences functions central to cell dysfunction in neurodegenerative disease.
    Keywords:  Mitochondria; Mitophagy; Neurodegneration; PTEN induced putative kinase 1; Parkinsons disease
  16. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2021 ;9 761773
      Impairment of autophagy has been strongly implicated in the progressive loss of nigral dopaminergic neurons in Parkinson's disease (PD). Transcription factor E3 (TFE3), an MiTF/TFE family transcription factor, has been identified as a master regulator of the genes that are associated with lysosomal biogenesis and autophagy. However, whether TFE3 is involved in parkinsonian neurodegeneration remains to be determined. In this study, we found decreased TFE3 expression in the nuclei of the dopaminergic neurons of postmortem human PD brains. Next, we demonstrated that TFE3 knockdown led to autophagy dysfunction and neurodegeneration of dopaminergic neurons in mice, implying that reduction of nuclear TFE3 may contribute to autophagy dysfunction-mediated cell death in PD. Further, we showed that enhancement of autophagy by TFE3 overexpression dramatically reversed autophagy downregulation and dopaminergic neurons loss in the 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) model of PD. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that TFE3 plays an essential role in maintaining autophagy and the survival of dopaminergic neurons, suggesting TFE3 activation may serve as a promising strategy for PD therapy.
    Keywords:  MPTP; Parkinson’s disease; TFE3; autophagy; dopaminergic neurons
  17. Front Plant Sci. 2021 ;12 783881
      Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved vacuolar process functioning in the degradation of cellular components for reuse. In plants, autophagy is generally activated upon stress and its regulation is executed by numbers of AuTophaGy-related genes (ATGs), of which the ATG8 plays a dual role in both biogenesis of autophagosomes and recruitment of ATG8-interacting motif (AIM) anchored selective autophagy receptors (SARs). Such motif is either termed as AIM or ubiquitin-interacting motif (UIM), corresponding to the LC3-interacting region (LIR)/AIM docking site (LDS) or the UIM docking site (UDS) of ATG8, respectively. To date, dozens of AIM or UIM containing SARs have been characterized. However, the knowledge of these motifs is still obscured. In this review, we intend to summarize the current understanding of SAR proteins and discuss the conservation and diversification of the AIMs/UIMs, expectantly providing new insights into the evolution of them in various biological processes in plants.
    Keywords:  ATG8; ATG8-interacting motif (AIM); autophagy; selective autophagy receptor (SAR); ubiquitin-interacting motif (UIM)
  18. Front Physiol. 2021 ;12 779547
      Sarcopenia, or age-related skeletal muscle atrophy and weakness, imposes significant clinical and economic burdens on affected patients and societies. Neurological degeneration, such as motoneuron death, has been recognized as a key contributor to sarcopenia. However, little is known about how aged/sarcopenic muscle adapts to this denervation stress. Here, we show that mice at 27months of age exhibit clear signs of sarcopenia but no accelerated denervation-induced muscle atrophy when compared to 8-month-old mice. Surprisingly, aging lends unique atrophy resistance to tibialis anteria muscle, accompanied by an increase in the cascade of mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1)-independent anabolic events involving Akt signaling, rRNA biogenesis, and protein synthesis during denervation. These results expand our understanding of age-dependent stress responses and may help develop better countermeasures to sarcopenia.
    Keywords:  Akt; aging; denervation; mTORC1; muscle; protein synthesis; rRNA
  19. Mol Cell. 2021 Dec 16. pii: S1097-2765(21)01036-4. [Epub ahead of print]81(24): 4960-4961
      By putting a proteomic spin on the analysis of neurogenesis, Ordureau et al. (2021) produce a vast resource of information and reveal a program of mitophagy and organelle remodeling, which may play a key role in adapting organelles to a neuronal lineage.
  20. Front Pharmacol. 2021 ;12 794298
      Sepsis is a life-threatening syndrome induced by aberrant host response towards infection. The autophagy-lysosomal pathway (ALP) plays a fundamental role in maintaining cellular homeostasis and conferring organ protection. However, this pathway is often impaired in sepsis, resulting in dysregulated host response and organ dysfunction. Transcription factor EB (TFEB) is a master modulator of the ALP. TFEB promotes both autophagy and lysosomal biogenesis via transcriptional regulation of target genes bearing the coordinated lysosomal expression and regulation (CLEAR) motif. Recently, increasing evidences have linked TFEB and the TFEB dependent ALP with pathogenetic mechanisms and therapeutic implications in sepsis. Therefore, this review describes the existed knowledge about the mechanisms of TFEB activation in regulating the ALP and the evidences of their protection against sepsis, such as immune modulation and organ protection. In addition, TFEB activators with diversified pharmacological targets are summarized, along with recent advances of their potential therapeutic applications in treating sepsis.
    Keywords:  TFEB; TFEB activators; autophagy-lysosomal pathway; immunity; inflammation; sepsis
  21. Mol Cancer. 2021 Dec 11. 20(1): 163
      Autophagy is a highly conserved catabolic process seen in eukaryotes and is essentially a lysosome-dependent protein degradation pathway. The dysregulation of autophagy is often associated with the pathogenesis of numerous types of cancers, and can not only promote the survival of cancer but also trigger the tumor cell death. During cancer development, the microbial community might predispose cells to tumorigenesis by promoting mucosal inflammation, causing systemic disorders, and may also regulate the immune response to cancer. The complex relationship between autophagy and microorganisms can protect the body by activating the immune system. In addition, autophagy and microorganisms can crosstalk with each other in multifaceted ways to influence various physiological and pathological responses involved in cancer progression. Various molecular mechanisms, correlating the microbiota disorders and autophagy activation, control the outcomes of protumor or antitumor responses, which depend on the cancer type, tumor microenvironment and disease stage. In this review, we mainly emphasize the leading role of autophagy during the interaction between pathogenic microorganisms and human cancers and investigate the various molecular mechanisms by which autophagy modulates such complicated biological processes. Moreover, we also highlight the possibility of curing cancers with multiple molecular agents targeting the microbiota/autophagy axis. Finally, we summarize the emerging clinical trials investigating the therapeutic potential of targeting either autophagy or microbiota as anticancer strategies, although the crosstalk between them has not been explored thoroughly.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Cancer progression; Microbiota; Target therapy
  22. Sci Rep. 2021 Dec 14. 11(1): 23984
      Unraveling unwanted side effects of nanotechnology-based therapies like photothermal therapy (PTT) is vital in translational nanomedicine. Herein, we monitored the relationship between autophagic response at the transcriptional level by using a PCR array and tumor formation ability by colony formation assay in the human neuroblastoma cell line, SH-SY5Y, 48 h after being exposed to two different mild hyperthermia (43 and 48 °C) induced by PTT. In this regard, the promotion of apoptosis and autophagy were evaluated using immunofluorescence imaging and flow cytometry analyses. Protein levels of Ki-67, P62, and LC3 were measured using ELISA. Our results showed that of 86 genes associated with autophagy, the expression of 54 genes was changed in response to PTT. Also, we showed that chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA) and macroautophagy are stimulated in PTT. Importantly, the results of this study also showed significant changes in genes related to the crosstalk between autophagy, dormancy, and metastatic activity of treated cells. Our findings illustrated that PTT enhances the aggressiveness of cancer cells at 43 °C, in contrast to 48 °C by the regulation of autophagy-dependent manner.
  23. Mitochondrion. 2021 Dec 11. pii: S1567-7249(21)00171-9. [Epub ahead of print]
      7-Nitro-2,1,3-benzoxadiazole (NBD) is an environmentally responsive fluorophore. We have reported that GIF2114 and GIF2115, anti-ferroptotic N,N-dimethylaniline-compounds, localize to lysosome when they are visualized by NBD. Here we show that the NBD fluorescence of GIF2259, a hybrid derivative of GIF2114 and GIF2115, was quenched in aqueous buffer. However, the fluorescence was recovered when GIF2259 was localized on lysosomes. Although the dimethylamine group of GIF2259 is not essential for the lysosome localization, it contributes to a high specific/nonspecific ratio of fluorescence. Under a normal condition, the lysosomal signal visualized by GIF2259 did not overlap with mitochondria, while, under starved or depolarization conditions, it overlapped with mitochondria, suggesting that GIF2259 could be used as a simple tool for monitoring lysosomal metabolism and mitochondrial turnover, that is mitophagy.
    Keywords:  autophagy; endosome; live imager; lysosome; mitophagy; phospholipid
  24. J Cell Biol. 2022 Jan 03. pii: e202112049. [Epub ahead of print]221(1):
      Rushika M. Perera studies how pancreatic cancer cells use autophagy and the lysosome to adapt to stress.
  25. Acta Pharm Sin B. 2021 Nov;11(11): 3567-3584
      Protein neddylation is catalyzed by a three-enzyme cascade, namely an E1 NEDD8-activating enzyme (NAE), one of two E2 NEDD8 conjugation enzymes and one of several E3 NEDD8 ligases. The physiological substrates of neddylation are the family members of cullin, the scaffold component of cullin RING ligases (CRLs). Currently, a potent E1 inhibitor, MLN4924, also known as pevonedistat, is in several clinical trials for anti-cancer therapy. Here we report the discovery, through virtual screening and structural modifications, of a small molecule compound HA-1141 that directly binds to NAE in both in vitro and in vivo assays and effectively inhibits neddylation of cullins 1-5. Surprisingly, unlike MLN4924, HA-1141 also triggers non-canonical endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and PKR-mediated terminal integrated stress response (ISR) to activate ATF4 at an early stage, and to inhibit protein synthesis and mTORC1 activity at a later stage, eventually leading to autophagy induction. Biologically, HA-1141 suppresses growth and survival of cultured lung cancer cells and tumor growth in in vivo xenograft lung cancer models at a well-tolerated dose. Taken together, our study has identified a small molecule compound with the dual activities of blocking neddylation and triggering ER stress, leading to growth suppression of cancer cells.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Cullin RING ligase; ER stress; Neddylation; Small molecule inhibitor; mTORC1
  26. Acta Biochim Pol. 2021 Dec 15.
      Research on the health of mammals invariably shows how dynamic immunology is and how the role of many elements and immune processes of the macroorganism, developed in the process of evolution in protecting against threats, including infections, is changing. Among these elements conditioning the homeostasis of the macroorganism are mitochondria, PRR receptors (pattern recognition receptors) and the phenomenon of autophagy. In the context of physiological and pathological states in the body, mitochondria perform various functions. The primary function of these organelles is to produce energy in the cell, but on the other hand, they are heavily involved in various cellular processes, including ROS production and calcium homeostasis. They are largely involved in the activation of immune mechanisms during infectious and non-infectious conditions through mtDNA and the mitochondrial MAVS protein. Mitochondrial involvement has been also determined in PRR-related mechanisms as mtDNA has the ability to directly stimulate TLRs. On the other hand, mitochondria are also associated with apoptotic cell death and autophagy.
  27. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2021 ;9 771353
      The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is an essential organelle in cells that synthesizes, folds and modifies membrane and secretory proteins. It has a crucial role in cell survival and growth, thus requiring strict control of its quality and homeostasis. Autophagy of the ER fragments, termed ER-phagy or reticulophagy, is an essential mechanism responsible for ER quality control. It transports stress-damaged ER fragments as cargo into the lysosome for degradation to eliminate unfolded or misfolded protein aggregates and membrane lipids. ER-phagy can also function as a host defense mechanism when pathogens infect cells, and its deficiency facilitates viral infection. This review briefly describes the process and regulatory mechanisms of ER-phagy, and its function in host anti-microbial defense during infection.
    Keywords:  ER-phagy; autophagy; bacteria; infection; microbial; reticulophagy; virus
  28. Cancer Res. 2021 Dec 17. pii: canres.1443.2021. [Epub ahead of print]
      The aggressive nature of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) mandates the development of improved therapies. Since KRAS mutations are found in 95% of PDAC and are critical for tumor maintenance, one promising strategy involves exploiting KRAS-dependent metabolic perturbations. The macrometabolic process of autophagy is upregulated in KRAS-mutant PDAC, and PDAC growth is reliant on autophagy. However, inhibition of autophagy as monotherapy using the lysosomal inhibitor hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) has shown limited clinical efficacy. To identify strategies that can improve PDAC sensitivity to HCQ, we applied a CRISPR-Cas9 loss-of-function screen and found that a top sensitizer was the receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF1R). Additionally, RPPA pathway activation mapping profiled the signaling pathways altered by CQ treatment. Activating phosphorylation of RTKs, including IGF1R, were common compensatory increases in response to CQ. Inhibition of IGF1R increased autophagic flux and sensitivity to CQ-mediated growth suppression both in vitro and in vivo. Co-targeting both IGF1R and pathways that antagonize autophagy, such as ERK-MAPK axis, was strongly synergistic. IGF1R and ERK inhibition converged on suppression of glycolysis, leading to enhanced dependence on autophagy. Accordingly, concurrent inhibition of IGF1R, ERK, and autophagy induced cytotoxicity in PDAC cell lines, and decreased viability in human PDAC organoids. In conclusion, targeting IGF1R together with ERK enhances the effectiveness of autophagy inhibitors in PDAC.
  29. Nature. 2021 Dec 15.
      Organelles move along differentially modified microtubules to establish and maintain their proper distributions and functions1,2. However, how cells interpret these post-translational microtubule modification codes to selectively regulate organelle positioning remains largely unknown. The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is an interconnected network of diverse morphologies that extends promiscuously throughout the cytoplasm3, forming abundant contacts with other organelles4. Dysregulation of endoplasmic reticulum morphology is tightly linked to neurologic disorders and cancer5,6. Here we demonstrate that three membrane-bound endoplasmic reticulum proteins preferentially interact with different microtubule populations, with CLIMP63 binding centrosome microtubules, kinectin (KTN1) binding perinuclear polyglutamylated microtubules, and p180 binding glutamylated microtubules. Knockout of these proteins or manipulation of microtubule populations and glutamylation status results in marked changes in endoplasmic reticulum positioning, leading to similar redistributions of other organelles. During nutrient starvation, cells modulate CLIMP63 protein levels and p180-microtubule binding to bidirectionally move endoplasmic reticulum and lysosomes for proper autophagic responses.
  30. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2021 ;11 788340
      Autophagy has been shown to play an essential role in defending against intracellular bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Mounting evidence suggests that autophagy plays different roles in the infection process of different pathogens. Until now, there has been no conclusive evidence regarding whether host autophagy is involved in Neospora caninum infection. In the current study, we first monitored the activation of autophagy by N. caninum, which occurred mainly in the early stages of infection, and examined the role of host autophagy in N. caninum infection. Here, we presented evidence that N. caninum induced an increase in autophagic vesicles with double-membrane structures in macrophages at the early stage of infection. LC3-II expression peaked and decreased as infection continued. However, the expression of P62/SQSTM1 showed significant accumulation within 12 h of infection, indicating that autophagic flux was blocked. A tandem fluorescence protein mCherry-GFP-LC3 construct was used to corroborate the impaired autophagic flux. Subsequently, we found that N. caninum infection induced the activation of the TLR2-AKT-mTOR pathways. Further investigation revealed that TLR2-mTOR, accompanied by the blockade of autophagic flux, was responsible for impaired autophagy but was not associated with AKT. In vitro and in vivo, N. caninum replication was strongly blocked by the kinase inhibitor 3-methyladenine (3-MA, autophagy inhibitor). In contrast, rapamycin (Rapa, an autophagy inducer) was able to promote intracellular proliferation and reduce the survival rate of N. caninum-infected mice. On the other hand, the accumulation of autophagosomes facilitated the proliferation of N. caninum. Collectively, our findings suggest that activation of host autophagy facilitates N. caninum replication and may counteract the innate immune response of the host. In short, inhibition of the early stages of autophagy could potentially be a strategy for neosporosis control.
    Keywords:  Neospora caninum; TLR2; anti-infection; autophagy; innate immune; mTOR; parasite proliferation
  31. Hum Mol Genet. 2021 Dec 17. pii: ddab360. [Epub ahead of print]
      The purpose of our study is to understand the impact of a partial dynamin-related protein 1 (Drp1) on cognitive behavior, mitophagy, autophagy, and mitochondrial and synaptic activities in transgenic Tau mice in Alzheimer's disease (ad). Our lab reported increased levels of Aβ and P-Tau, and abnormal interactions between Aβ and Drp1, P-Tau, and Drp1 induced increased mitochondrial fragmentation and reduced fusion and synaptic activities in ad. These abnormal interactions, result in the proliferation of dysfunctional mitochondria in ad neurons. Recent research on mitochondria revealed that fission protein Drp1 is largely implicated in mitochondrial dynamics in ad. To determine the impact of reduced Drp1 in ad, we recently crossed transgenic Tau mice with Drp1 heterozygote knockout (Drp1+/-) mice and generated double mutant (P301LDrp1+/-) mice. In the current study, we assessed cognitive behavior, mRNA and protein levels of mitophagy, autophagy, mitochondrial biogenesis, dynamics and synaptic genes, mitochondrial morphology & mitochondrial function, dendritic spines in Tau mice relative to double mutant mice. When compared to Tau mice, double mutant mice did better on Morris Maze (reduced latency to find hidden platform, increased swimming speed and time spent on quadrant) and rotarod (stayed a longer period of time) tests. Both mRNA and proteins levels autophagy, mitophagy, mitochondrial biogenesis and synaptic proteins were increased in double mutant mice compared to Tau (P301L) mice. Dendritic spines were significantly increased; mitochondrial number is reduced and length is increased in double mutant mice. Based on these observations, we conclude that reduced Drp1 is beneficial in a symptomatic-transgenic Tau (P301L) mice.
    Keywords:  Mitochondria Alzheimer’s disease Mitophagy Autophagy Dynamin-related protein 1 Oxidative stress Mitochondrial biogenesis
  32. Acta Pharm Sin B. 2021 Nov;11(11): 3364-3378
      As a cellular bulk degradation and survival mechanism, autophagy is implicated in diverse biological processes. Genome-wide association studies have revealed the link between autophagy gene polymorphisms and susceptibility of autoimmune diseases including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), indicating that autophagy dysregulation may be involved in the development of autoimmune diseases. A series of autophagy modulators have displayed protective effects on autoimmune disease models, highlighting the emerging role of autophagy modulators in treating autoimmune diseases. This review explores the roles of autophagy in the autoimmune diseases, with emphasis on four major autoimmune diseases [SLE, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), IBD, and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE)]. More importantly, the therapeutic potentials of small molecular autophagy modulators (including autophagy inducers and inhibitors) on autoimmune diseases are comprehensively analyzed.
    Keywords:  Autoimmune disease; Autophagy; Autophagy inducer; Autophagy inhibitor; Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis; Inflammatory bowel disease; Rheumatoid arthritis; Systemic lupus erythematosus
  33. FEBS J. 2021 Dec 16.
      Electron transport chain (ETC) dysfunction is a common feature of mitochondrial diseases and induces severe cellular stresses, including mitochondrial membrane potential (Δψm ) reduction, mitochondrial matrix acidification, metabolic derangements and proteostatic stresses. Extensive studies of ETC dysfunction in yeast, C. elegans, cultured cells and mouse models have revealed multiple mitochondrial stress response pathways. Here, we summarize the current understanding of the triggers, sensors, signaling mechanisms, and the functional outcomes of mitochondrial stress responses in different species. We highlight Δψm reduction as a major trigger of stress responses in different species, but the responses are species-specific and the outcomes are context-dependent. ETC dysfunction elicits a mitochondrial unfolded protein response (UPRmt ) to repair damaged mitochondria in C. elegans, and activates a global adaptive program to maintain Δψm in yeast. Yeast and C. elegans responses are remarkably similar at the downstream responses, although they are activated by different signaling mechanisms. UPRmt generally protects ETC-defective worms, but its constitutive activation is toxic for wildtype worms and worms carrying mutant mtDNA. In contrast to lower organisms, ETC dysfunction in mammals mainly activates a mitochondrial integrated stress response (ISRmt ) to reprogram metabolism and a PINK1-Parkin mitophagy pathway to degrade damaged mitochondria. Accumulating in vivo results suggest that the ATF4 branch of ISRmt exacerbates metabolic derangements to accelerate mitochondrial disease progression. The in vivo roles of mitophagy in mitochondrial diseases are also context-dependent. These results thus reveal the common and unique aspects of mitochondrial stress responses in different species and highlight their multifaceted roles in mitochondrial diseases.
    Keywords:  ISRmt; Mitochondrial stress response; UPRmt; mitochondrial membrane potential; mitophagy
  34. Anal Chem. 2021 Dec 12.
      Classical chemical probes are prone to dissipation from stressed organelles, as evidenced by the incapability of mitochondrial dyes to image mitophagy linked to multiple diseases. We herein reported mitophagy imaging via covalent anchoring of a lysosomal probe to the mitochondrial inner membrane (CALM). Utilizing DBCORC-TPP, an azide-conjugatable probe with acidity-triggered fluorescence, CALM is operated via ΔΨm-promoted probe accumulation in mitochondria and thereby bioorthogonal ligation of the trapped probe with azido-choline (Azcholine) metabolically installed on the mitochondrial membrane. Overcoming the limitation of synthetic probes to dissipate from stressed organelles, CALM enables signal-on fluorescence imaging of mitophagy induced by starvation and is further employed to reveal mitophagy in ferroptosis. These results suggest the potential of CALM as a new tool to study mitophagy.
  35. Cell Discov. 2021 Dec 14. 7(1): 118
      PTEN is a crucial tumor suppressor and loss of PTEN protein is involved in various cancers. However, the detailed molecular mechanisms of PTEN loss in cancers remain elusive, especially the involvement of lncRNAs. Here, lncRNA RP11-295G20.2 is found to be significantly upregulated in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and promotes the growth of liver cancer cells both in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, RP11-295G20.2 inhibits autophagy in liver cancer cells. Interestingly, RP11-295G20.2 directly binds to the PTEN protein and leads to its degradation. RP11-295G20.2 expression is inversely correlated with PTEN protein expression in 82 TCGA/TCPA-LIHC samples. Surprisingly, RP11-295G20.2-induced PTEN degradation occurs through the lysosomal pathway instead of the proteasome pathway. RP11-295G20.2 binds to the N terminus of PTEN and facilitates the interaction of p62 with PTEN. Thus, PTEN is translocated into lysosomes and degraded. RP11-295G20.2 also influences AKT phosphorylation and forkhead box O 3a (FOXO3a) translocation into the nucleus, in turn regulating the transcription of autophagy-related genes. Collectively, RP11-295G20.2 directly binds to PTEN and enables its lysosomal degradation. This newly identified RP11-295G20.2/PTEN axis reveals an unexplored molecular mechanism regarding PTEN loss in liver cancer and might provide new therapeutic benefits for liver cancer patients.
  36. Autophagy. 2021 Dec 12. 1-2
      The mechanisms controlling immunosurveillance and immunoevasion often operate simultaneously to the triggering of the oncogenic signaling that results in tumor initiation. The resolution of the balance between anti-cancer immune responses and pro-tumorigenic pathways determines if a tumor cell survives and can remodel the microenvironment to reinforce immunosuppression or is eliminated by the immune system. Cancer cells must endure a toxic and metabolically challenging milieu. In its various forms, autophagy provides a way for transformed cells to survive by promoting catabolism and detoxification. Mounting evidence suggests that the boundaries between cancer immunity and mitogenic and metabolic programs are diffuse, with the same molecules likely serving several diverse roles in immunity and metabolism during tumor initiation and progression. Our recent data provide mechanistic detail and functional relevance of a new paradigm whereby the same signaling elements control immunity and autophagy in cancer.
    Keywords:  Atypical PKC; ULK2; autophagy; immunosurveillance; interferon
  37. Cell Chem Biol. 2021 Dec 16. pii: S2451-9456(21)00514-6. [Epub ahead of print]28(12): 1665-1668
      Appropriately responding and adapting to genotoxic, oxidative, and metabolic stress is essential for survival and is at the heart of maintaining homeostasis. In this issue of Cell Chemical Biology, Jiang et al. (2021) describe an autophagy-dependent mechanism for cytoprotective H2S generation initiated by DNA damage and other small molecule treatments.
  38. Cell Stress. 2021 Dec;5(12): 176-182
      Programmed cell death protein 4 (PDCD4) exerts critical functions as tumor suppressor and in immune cells to regulate inflammatory processes. The phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) promotes degradation of PDCD4 via mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1). However, additional pathways that may regulate PDCD4 expression are largely ill-defined. In this study, we have found that activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase p38 promoted degradation of PDCD4 in macrophages and fibroblasts. Mechanistically, we identified a pathway from p38 and its substrate MAP kinase-activated protein kinase 2 (MK2) to the tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) to regulate mTORC1-dependent degradation of PDCD4. Moreover, we provide evidence that TSC1 and TSC2 regulate PDCD4 expression via an additional mechanism independent of mTORC1. These novel data extend our knowledge of how PDCD4 expression is regulated by stress- and nutrient-sensing pathways.
    Keywords:  MK2; PDCD4; TSC1; TSC2; cancer; mTORC1; macrophages; p38; rapamycin
  39. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2021 ;9 793772
      In the past 16 years, research on mitophagy has increasingly expanded to a wider range of subjects. Therefore, comprehensively analyzing the relevant progress and development trends on mitophagy research requires specific methods. To assess the hotspots, directions, and quality of results in this field worldwide, we used multiple tools to examine research progress and growing trends in research on the matter during the last 16 years (from 2005 to 2020). We also compared the quantity and quality of the literature records on mitophagy published by research institutions in China and other developed countries, reviewed China's contribution, and examined the gap between China and these developed countries. According to the results of our bibliometric analysis, the United States and its research institutes published the most papers. We identified cell biology as the most commonly researched subject on mitophagy and AUTOPHAGY as the most popular journal for research on mitophagy. We also listed the most cited documents from around the world and China. With gradually increased funding, China is progressively becoming prominent in the field of mitophagy; nevertheless, the gap between her and major countries in the world must be closed.
    Keywords:  VOSviewer; bibliometric analysis; gap; mitophagy; web of science
  40. Exp Neurol. 2021 Dec 11. pii: S0014-4886(21)00357-5. [Epub ahead of print]348 113949
      Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in modern society. In recent years, several studies show that there are disturbances in lipid metabolism in depressed patients. High-fat diet may lead to anxiety and depression, but the mechanisms involved remain unclear. In our study, we found that 8 weeks of high-fat feeding effectively induced metabolic disorders, including obesity and hyperlipidemia in mice. Interestingly, the mice also showed depressive and anxiety-like behaviors. We further found activated microglia and astrocyte, increased neuroinflammation, decreased autophagy and BDNF levels in mice after high-fat feeding. Besides, high-fat feeding can also inhibit AMPK phosphorylation and induce mTOR phosphorylation. After treating with the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin, autophagy and BDNF levels were elevated. The number of activated microglia and astrocyte, and pro-inflammation levels were reduced. Besides, rapamycin can also reduce the body weight and serum lipid level in high fat feeding mice. Depressive and anxiety-like behaviors were also ameliorated to some extent after rapamycin treatment. In summary, these results suggest that high-fat diet-induced obesity may lead to depressive and anxiety-like behaviors in mice by inhibiting AMPK phosphorylation and promoting mTOR shift to phosphorylation to inhibit autophagy. Therefore, improving lipid metabolism or enhancing autophagy through the AMPK/mTOR pathway could be potential targets for the treatment of obesity depression.
    Keywords:  AMPK/mTOR; Autophagy; Depression; High fat diet; Obesity
  41. Commun Biol. 2021 Dec 15. 4(1): 1397
      Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease characterized by selective death of motor neurons. Mutations in Cu, Zn-superoxide dismutase (SOD1) causing the gain of its toxic property are the major culprit of familial ALS (fALS). The abnormal SOD1 aggregation in the motor neurons has been suggested as the major pathological hallmark of ALS patients. However, the development of pharmacological interventions against SOD1 still needs further investigation. In this study, using ELISA-based chemical screening with wild and mutant SOD1 proteins, we screened a new small molecule, PRG-A01, which could block the misfolding/aggregation of SOD1 or TDP-43. The drug rescued the cell death induced by mutant SOD1 in human neuroblastoma cell line. Administration of PRG-A01 into the ALS model mouse resulted in significant improvement of muscle strength, motor neuron viability and mobility with extended lifespan. These results suggest that SOD1 misfolding/aggregation is a potent therapeutic target for SOD1 related ALS.
  42. Acta Pharm Sin B. 2021 Nov;11(11): 3542-3552
      The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR)-sterol regulatory element-binding proteins (SREBPs) signaling promotes lipogenesis. However, mTOR inhibitors also displayed a significant side effect of hyperlipidemia. Thus, it is essential to develop mTOR-specific inhibitors to inhibit lipogenesis. Here, we screened the endogenous inhibitors of mTOR, and identified that FKBP38 as a vital regulator of lipid metabolism. FKBP38 decreased the lipid content in vitro and in vivo via suppression of the mTOR/P70S6K/SREBPs pathway. 3,5,6,7,8,3',4'-Heptamethoxyflavone (HMF), a citrus flavonoid, was found to target FKBP38 to suppress the mTOR/P70S6K/SREBPs pathway, reduce lipid level, and potently ameliorate hyperlipidemia and insulin resistance in high fat diet (HFD)-fed mice. Our findings suggest that pharmacological intervention by targeting FKBP38 to suppress mTOR/P70S6K/SREBPs pathway is a potential therapeutic strategy for hyperlipidemia, and HMF could be a leading compound for development of anti-hyperlipidemia drugs.
    Keywords:  3,5,6,7,8,3ʹ,4ʹ-heptamethoxyflavone; FKBP38; Hyperlipidemia; SREBP; mTOR
  43. PLoS Biol. 2021 Dec;19(12): e3001480
      Mutations in leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) cause autosomal dominant Parkinson disease (PD), while polymorphic LRRK2 variants are associated with sporadic PD. PD-linked mutations increase LRRK2 kinase activity and induce neurotoxicity in vitro and in vivo. The small GTPase Rab8a is a LRRK2 kinase substrate and is involved in receptor-mediated recycling and endocytic trafficking of transferrin, but the effect of PD-linked LRRK2 mutations on the function of Rab8a is poorly understood. Here, we show that gain-of-function mutations in LRRK2 induce sequestration of endogenous Rab8a to lysosomes in overexpression cell models, while pharmacological inhibition of LRRK2 kinase activity reverses this phenotype. Furthermore, we show that LRRK2 mutations drive association of endocytosed transferrin with Rab8a-positive lysosomes. LRRK2 has been nominated as an integral part of cellular responses downstream of proinflammatory signals and is activated in microglia in postmortem PD tissue. Here, we show that iPSC-derived microglia from patients carrying the most common LRRK2 mutation, G2019S, mistraffic transferrin to lysosomes proximal to the nucleus in proinflammatory conditions. Furthermore, G2019S knock-in mice show a significant increase in iron deposition in microglia following intrastriatal LPS injection compared to wild-type mice, accompanied by striatal accumulation of ferritin. Our data support a role of LRRK2 in modulating iron uptake and storage in response to proinflammatory stimuli in microglia.
  44. Sci Rep. 2021 Dec 14. 11(1): 24005
      Neutrophils release neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs), via NETosis, as a defense mechanism against pathogens. Neutrophils can release NETs spontaneously; however, the mechanisms underlying spontaneous NETosis remain unclear. Neutrophils isolated from healthy donors were tested for NET formation and autophagy at 1, 6, 12, and 24 h after incubation. Autophagy response was evaluated in response to various autophagy inducers and inhibitors. The relationship between autophagy and NETosis was detected in vivo using an ovalbumin-induced mouse model of asthma. We found that the increase in the proportion of spontaneous NETosis was time-dependent. The number of autophagy-positive cells also increased over time and LC3B protein played an integral role in NET formation. Trehalose (an inducer of mTOR-independent autophagy) treatment significantly increased NET formation, whereas rapamycin (an mTOR-dependent autophagy inducer) did not increase NET release by neutrophils. Compared with the control group, 3-methyladenine (an autophagy sequestration inhibitor) and hydroxychloroquine sulfate (autophagosome-lysosome fusion inhibitor) treatments significantly reduced the percentage of NET-positive cells. In vivo studies on ovalbumin-induced asthma lung sections revealed NETs and LC3B and citH3 proteins were found to co-localize with DNA. Our findings suggest that autophagy plays a crucial role in aging-related spontaneous NETosis.
  45. Front Physiol. 2021 ;12 752347
      Following muscle damage, autophagy is crucial for muscle regeneration. Hormones (e.g., testosterone, cortisol) regulate this process and sex differences in autophagic flux exist in the basal state. However, to date, no study has examined the effect of a transient hormonal response following eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage (EE) between untrained young men and women. Untrained men (n = 8, 22 ± 3 years) and women (n = 8, 19 ± 1 year) completed two sessions of 80 unilateral maximal eccentric knee extensions followed by either upper body resistance exercise (RE; designed to induce a hormonal response; EE + RE) or a time-matched rest period (20 min; EE + REST). Vastus lateralis biopsy samples were collected before (BL), and 12 h, and 24 h after RE/REST. Gene and protein expression levels of selective markers for autophagic initiation signaling, phagophore initiation, and elongation/sequestration were determined. Basal markers of autophagy were not different between sexes. For EE + RE, although initiation signaling (FOXO3) and autophagy-promoting (BECN1) genes were greater (p < 0.0001; 12.4-fold, p = 0.0010; 10.5-fold, respectively) for women than men, autophagic flux (LC3-II/LC3-I protein ratio) did not change for women and was lower (p < 0.0001 3.0-fold) than men. Furthermore, regardless of hormonal changes, LC3-I and LC3-II protein content decreased (p = 0.0090; 0.547-fold, p = 0.0410; 0.307-fold, respectively) for men suggesting increased LC3-I lipidation and autophagosome degradation whereas LC3-I protein content increased (p = 0.0360; 1.485-fold) for women suggesting decreased LC3-I lipidation. Collectively, our findings demonstrated basal autophagy was not different between men and women, did not change after EE alone, and was promoted with the acute hormonal increase after RE only in men but not in women. Thus, the autophagy response to moderate muscle damage is promoted by RE-induced hormonal changes in men only.
    Keywords:  LC3-II/LC3-I ratio; cortisol; growth hormone; macroautophagy; sex dimorphism
  46. Brain Commun. 2021 ;3(4): fcab245
    Italian Undiagnosed Diseases Network
      The vacuolar H+-ATPase is a large multi-subunit proton pump, composed of an integral membrane V0 domain, involved in proton translocation, and a peripheral V1 domain, catalysing ATP hydrolysis. This complex is widely distributed on the membrane of various subcellular organelles, such as endosomes and lysosomes, and plays a critical role in cellular processes ranging from autophagy to protein trafficking and endocytosis. Variants in ATP6V0A1, the brain-enriched isoform in the V0 domain, have been recently associated with developmental delay and epilepsy in four individuals. Here, we identified 17 individuals from 14 unrelated families with both with new and previously characterized variants in this gene, representing the largest cohort to date. Five affected subjects with biallelic variants in this gene presented with a phenotype of early-onset progressive myoclonus epilepsy with ataxia, while 12 individuals carried de novo missense variants and showed severe developmental and epileptic encephalopathy. The R740Q mutation, which alone accounts for almost 50% of the mutations identified among our cases, leads to failure of lysosomal hydrolysis by directly impairing acidification of the endolysosomal compartment, causing autophagic dysfunction and severe developmental defect in Caenorhabditis elegans. Altogether, our findings further expand the neurological phenotype associated with variants in this gene and provide a direct link with endolysosomal acidification in the pathophysiology of ATP6V0A1-related conditions.
    Keywords:  Caenorhabditis elegans disease modelling; V-ATPase; epileptic encephalopathy; lysosomal disease; organelle acidification
  47. Nat Commun. 2021 Dec 15. 12(1): 7293
      Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), a blinding eye disease, is characterized by pathological protein- and lipid-rich drusen deposits underneath the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and atrophy of the RPE monolayer in advanced disease stages - leading to photoreceptor cell death and vision loss. Currently, there are no drugs that stop drusen formation or RPE atrophy in AMD. Here we provide an iPSC-RPE AMD model that recapitulates drusen and RPE atrophy. Drusen deposition is dependent on AMD-risk-allele CFH(H/H) and anaphylatoxin triggered alternate complement signaling via the activation of NF-κB and downregulation of autophagy pathways. Through high-throughput screening we identify two drugs, L-745,870, a dopamine receptor antagonist, and aminocaproic acid, a protease inhibitor that reduce drusen deposits and restore RPE epithelial phenotype in anaphylatoxin challenged iPSC-RPE with or without the CFH(H/H) genotype. This comprehensive iPSC-RPE model replicates key AMD phenotypes, provides molecular insight into the role of CFH(H/H) risk-allele in AMD, and discovers two candidate drugs to treat AMD.
  48. Cell Death Discov. 2021 Dec 14. 7(1): 392
      Radioresistance emerges as the major obstacle to nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) treatment, further understanding of underlying mechanisms is necessary to overcome the radioresistance and improve the therapeutic effect. In this study, we first identified a candidate radioresistant-related gene LUC7L2 via CRISPR/Cas9 high-throughput screening and quantitative proteomic approach. Overexpression of LUC7L2 in NPC cells promoted cell viability following exposure to ionizing radiation (IR), while knockdown of LUC7L2 significantly slowed down the DNA replication and impaired cell survival, sensitized NPC-radioresistant cells to IR. Using immunoprecipitation assay, we found SQSTM1, an autophagy receptor, was a potential binding partner of LUC7L2. Down-regulation of LUC7L2 in NPC-radioresistant cells led to reduction of SQSTM1 expression and enhancement of autophagy level. Furthermore, LUC7L2 knockdown in combination with autophagy inhibitor, chloroquine (CQ), resulted in more NPC-radioresistant cell death. Besides, LUC7L2 was obviously distributed in NPC tissues, and high LUC7L2 expression correlated with shorter survival in NPC patients. Our data suggest that LUC7L2 plays a huge part in regulating radioresistance of NPC cells, and serves as a promising therapeutic target in re-sensitizing NPC to radiotherapy.
  49. Front Physiol. 2021 ;12 706743
      Antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) is an autoimmune disease characterized by thrombosis and pregnancy morbidity (PM) obstetric events together with persistent high titers of circulating antiphospholipid antibodies (aPL). Several mechanisms that explain the development of thrombosis and PM in APS include the association of aPL with alterations in the coagulation cascade and inflammatory events. Other mechanisms disturbing cellular homeostases, such as mitochondrial dysfunction, autophagy, and cell proliferation, have been described in other autoimmune diseases. Therefore, the objective of this study was to investigate the impact of aPL from different patient populations on endothelial cell mitochondrial function, activation of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and autophagy pathways, and cellular growth. Using an in vitro model, human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) were treated with polyclonal immunoglobulin G (IgG) purified from the serum of women with both PM and vascular thrombosis (PM/VT), with VT only (VT), or with PM and non-criteria aPL (seronegative-obstetric APS, SN-OAPS). We included IgG from women with PM without aPL (PM/aPL-) and healthy women with previous uncomplicated pregnancies (normal human serum, NHS) as control groups. Mitochondrial function, mTOR activation, autophagy, and cell proliferation were evaluated by Western blotting, flow cytometry, and functional assays. IgG from women with PM/VT increased HUVEC mitochondrial hyperpolarization and activation of the mTOR and autophagic pathways, while IgG from patients with VT induced endothelial autophagy and cell proliferation in the absence of elevated mTOR activity or mitochondrial dysfunction. IgG from the SN-OAPS patient group had no effect on any of these HUVEC responses. In conclusion, aPL from women with PM and vascular events induce cellular stress evidenced by mitochondrial hyperpolarization and increased activation of the mTOR and autophagic pathways which may play a role in the pathogenesis of obstetric APS.
    Keywords:  antiphospholipid antibodies; antiphospholipid syndrome; autophagy; endothelial cell; mTOR; mitochondria