bims-auttor Biomed News
on Autophagy and mTOR
Issue of 2023‒01‒22
48 papers selected by
Viktor Korolchuk, Newcastle University

  1. Autophagy. 2023 Jan 18.
      The double-stranded RNA-binding protein, STAU1 (staufen double-stranded RNA binding protein 1) is a multifunctional protein that localizes to stress granules (SGs). We had previously found that STAU1 is overabundant in fibroblast cell lines from patients with spinocerebellar ataxia type 2 (SCA2) or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)-frontotemporal dementia (FTD) as well as in animal models of these diseases. STAU1 overabundance is post-transcriptional and associated with MTOR hyperactivation and links SG formation with macroautophagy/autophagy. Reducing STAU1 levels in mice with ALS mutations normalizes MTOR activity and autophagy-related marker proteins. We also see increased STAU1 levels in HEK293 cells expressing C9orf72-relevant dipeptide repeats (DPRs), and DPRs are not observed in cells where STAU1 is targeted by RNAi. Overexpression of STAU1 in HEK293 cells increases MTOR translation by directly interacting with the MTOR mRNA 5'UTR, activating downstream targets and impairing autophagic flux. STAU1 may constitute a novel target to modulate MTOR activity and autophagy and for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.
    Keywords:  RNA-binding protein; STAU1; autophagy; mRNA; neurodegeneration
  2. Biomedicines. 2023 Jan 09. pii: 162. [Epub ahead of print]11(1):
      Polyglutamine diseases are a group of congenital neurodegenerative diseases categorized with genomic abnormalities in the expansion of CAG triplet repeats in coding regions of specific disease-related genes. Protein aggregates are the toxic hallmark for polyQ diseases and initiate neuronal death. Autophagy is a catabolic process that aids in the removal of damaged organelles or toxic protein aggregates, a process required to maintain cellular homeostasis that has the potential to fight against neurodegenerative diseases, but this pathway gets affected under diseased conditions, as there is a direct impact on autophagy-related gene expression. The increase in the accumulation of autophagy vesicles reported in neurodegenerative diseases was due to an increase in autophagy or may have been due to a decrease in autophagy flux. These reports suggested that there is a contribution of autophagy in the pathology of diseases and regulation in the process of autophagy. It was demonstrated in various disease models of polyQ diseases that autophagy upregulation by using modulators can enhance the dissolution of toxic aggregates and delay disease progression. In this review, interaction of the autophagy pathway with polyQ diseases was analyzed, and a therapeutic approach with autophagy inducing drugs was established for disease pathogenesis.
    Keywords:  Huntington’s diseases; autophagy; neurodegenerative diseases; neurons; polyQ
  3. J Cell Sci. 2023 Jan 16. pii: jcs.260546. [Epub ahead of print]
      Autophagy is a catabolic process during which cytosolic material is enwrapped in a newly formed double membrane structure called the autophagosome, and subsequently targeted for degradation in the lytic compartment of the cell. The fusion of autophagosomes with the lytic compartment is a tightly regulated step and involves membrane-bound SNARE proteins. These play a crucial role as they promote lipid mixing and fusion of the opposing membranes. Among the SNARE proteins implicated in autophagy, the essential SNARE protein YKT6 is the only SNARE protein evolutionary conserved from yeast to humans. Here we show that alterations in YKT6 function, in both mammalian cells and nematodes, produce early and late autophagy defects that result in reduced survival. Moreover, mammalian autophagosomal YKT6 is phospho-regulated by the ULK1 kinase, preventing premature bundling with the lysosomal SNARE proteins and thereby inhibiting autophagosome-lysosome fusion. Together, our findings reveal that timely regulation of the YKT6 phosphorylation status is crucial throughout autophagy progression and cell survival.
    Keywords:  ULK1; autophagosome; autophagy; SNARE; YKT6
  4. Mar Drugs. 2023 Jan 10. pii: 46. [Epub ahead of print]21(1):
      Dysfunctional autophagy is associated with various human diseases, e.g., cancer. The discovery of small molecules modulating autophagy with therapeutic potential could be significant. To this end, we screened the ability of a series of metabolites isolated from marine microorganisms to modulate autophagy. Anhydrodebromoaplysiatoxin (ADAT), a metabolite yielded by the marine red algae Gracilaria coronopifolia, inhibited autophagosome-lysosome fusion in mammalian cells, thereby inducing the accumulation of autophagosomes. Treatment of cells with ADAT alkalinized lysosomal pH. Interestingly, ADAT also activated the mTOR/p70S6K/FoxO3a signaling pathway, likely leading to the inhibition of autophagy induction. ADAT had little effect on apoptosis. Our results suggest that ADAT is a dichotomic autophagy inhibitor that inhibits both late-stage (autophagosome-lysosome fusion) and early-stage (autophagy induction) autophagy.
    Keywords:  anhydrodebromoaplysiatoxin; autophagy; lysosome; mTOR/p70S6K/FoxO3a
  5. Cells. 2023 Jan 07. pii: 249. [Epub ahead of print]12(2):
      Sarcopenia is a debilitating skeletal muscle disease that accelerates in the last decades of life and is characterized by marked deficits in muscle strength, mass, quality, and metabolic health. The multifactorial causes of sarcopenia have proven difficult to treat and involve a complex interplay between environmental factors and intrinsic age-associated changes. It is generally accepted that sarcopenia results in a progressive loss of skeletal muscle function that exceeds the loss of mass, indicating that while loss of muscle mass is important, loss of muscle quality is the primary defect with advanced age. Furthermore, preclinical models have suggested that aged skeletal muscle exhibits defects in cellular quality control such as the degradation of damaged mitochondria. Recent evidence suggests that a dysregulation of proteostasis, an important regulator of cellular quality control, is a significant contributor to the aging-associated declines in muscle quality, function, and mass. Although skeletal muscle mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) plays a critical role in cellular control, including skeletal muscle hypertrophy, paradoxically, sustained activation of mTORC1 recapitulates several characteristics of sarcopenia. Pharmaceutical inhibition of mTORC1 as well as caloric restriction significantly improves muscle quality in aged animals, however, the mechanisms controlling cellular proteostasis are not fully known. This information is important for developing effective therapeutic strategies that mitigate or prevent sarcopenia and associated disability. This review identifies recent and historical understanding of the molecular mechanisms of proteostasis driving age-associated muscle loss and suggests potential therapeutic interventions to slow or prevent sarcopenia.
    Keywords:  aging; anabolic resistance; atrophy; autophagy; caloric restriction; dynapenia; mTORC1; mitochondria; mitophagy; muscle protein synthesis; rapamycin; sarcopenia; skeletal muscle; ubiquitin proteasome
  6. J Biomed Sci. 2023 Jan 18. 30(1): 5
      Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved catabolic cellular process that exerts antiviral functions during a viral invasion. However, co-evolution and co-adaptation between viruses and autophagy have armed viruses with multiple strategies to subvert the autophagic machinery and counteract cellular antiviral responses. Specifically, the host cell quickly initiates the autophagy to degrade virus particles or virus components upon a viral infection, while cooperating with anti-viral interferon response to inhibit the virus replication. Degraded virus-derived antigens can be presented to T lymphocytes to orchestrate the adaptive immune response. Nevertheless, some viruses have evolved the ability to inhibit autophagy in order to evade degradation and immune responses. Others induce autophagy, but then hijack autophagosomes as a replication site, or hijack the secretion autophagy pathway to promote maturation and egress of virus particles, thereby increasing replication and transmission efficiency. Interestingly, different viruses have unique strategies to counteract different types of selective autophagy, such as exploiting autophagy to regulate organelle degradation, metabolic processes, and immune responses. In short, this review focuses on the interaction between autophagy and viruses, explaining how autophagy serves multiple roles in viral infection, with either proviral or antiviral functions.
    Keywords:  Autophagy degradation; Immune response; Selective autophagy; Viral infection; Viral replication
  7. Cell Cycle. 2023 Jan 19. 1-13
      Heart failure is defined as a drop in heart's pump function, accounting for reduced blood output and venous stasis, and constitutes the end stage of various cardiovascular diseases. Although mild mitochondrial dysfunction may hinder cardiomyocyte metabolism and impair myocardial function, severe mitochondrial injury is accompanied by cardiomyocyte apoptosis, leading to irreversible damage of the heart. Selective autophagy of mitochondria, or mitophagy, serves to rapidly remove dysfunctional mitochondria and restore the health of the mitochondrial population within cells by allowing reutilization of degradative substrates such as amino acids, fatty acids, and nucleotides. Although mitophagy represents a protective program that prevents the accumulation of poorly structured or damaged mitochondria, excessive mitophagy leads to mitochondrial population decline, impaired oxidative phosphorylation, and decreased ATP production. In this review, we first discuss the molecular underpinnings of mitophagy and the roles of different mitophagy adaptors. Then, the multiple and complex influence of mitophagy on heart failure is summarized. Finally, novel pharmacological strategies targeting mitophagy to relieve heart failure are briefly summarized.
    Keywords:  Bnip3; FUNDC1; Heart failure; Parkin; mitophagy
  8. Spectrochim Acta A Mol Biomol Spectrosc. 2023 Jan 13. pii: S1386-1425(23)00023-9. [Epub ahead of print]291 122338
      Autophagy is the controlled breakdown of cellular components that dysfunctional or nonessential, and the decomposition products are further recycled and synthesized for the normal physiological activities of cells. Lysosomal autophagy has been implicated in cancer, neurological disorders, Parkinson's disease, etc. Therefore, it is necessary to develop a fluorescent probe that can clearly describe the process of lysosomal autophagy. However, there are currently limited fluorescent probes for ratiometric monitoring of the autophagic process in dual channels. To solve this problem, a fluorescent probe based on spiropyran with lysosomal targeting and pH response for ratiometric monitoring the autophagy process of lysosomes were designed. The sensitive response of the probe to pH in vitro was verified by UV and fluorescence spectrum tests. Meanwhile, the probe demonstrated the ability to monitor the intracellular pH fluctuations. In addition, the application of Lyso-SD in the field of anti-counterfeiting has been proposed based on the obvious photoluminescence ability of Lyso-SD under UV irradiation.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Bioimaging; Lysosomal targeting; Spiropyran; UV and pH responsive
  9. J Biomed Res. 2022 Sep 28. 37(1): 30-46
      Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most prevalent neurodegenerative disorder. The major pathological changes in AD progression are the generation and accumulation of amyloid-beta (Aβ) peptides as well as the presence of abnormally hyperphosphorylated tau proteins in the brain. Autophagy is a conserved degradation pathway that eliminates abnormal protein aggregates and damaged organelles. Previous studies have suggested that autophagy plays a key role in the production and clearance of Aβ peptides to maintain a steady-state of Aβ peptides levels. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that autophagy is significantly impaired in the pathogenesis of AD, especially in Aβ metabolism. Therefore, this article reviews the latest studies concerning the mechanisms of autophagy, the metabolism of Aβ peptides, and the defective autophagy in the production and clearance of Aβ peptides. Here, we also summarize the established and new strategies for targeting autophagy in vivo and through clinical AD trials to identify gaps in our knowledge and to generate further questions.
    Keywords:  Alzheimer's disease; amyloid precursor protein secretases; amyloid-beta; autophagy; metabolism
  10. Biomolecules. 2022 Dec 21. pii: 15. [Epub ahead of print]13(1):
      Atherosclerosis (AS) is a lipid-driven disorder of the artery intima characterized by the equilibrium between inflammatory and regressive processes. A protein complex called NLRP3 inflammasome is involved in the release of mature interleukin-1β (IL-1β), which is connected to the initiation and progression of atherosclerosis. Autophagy, which includes macroautophagy, chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA), and microautophagy, is generally recognized as the process by which cells transfer their constituents to lysosomes for digestion. Recent studies have suggested a connection between vascular inflammation and autophagy. This review summarizes the most recent studies and the underlying mechanisms associated with different autophagic pathways and NLRP3 inflammasomes in vascular inflammation, aiming to provide additional evidence for atherosclerosis research.
    Keywords:  NLRP3 inflammasome; atherosclerosis; autophagy; mitophagy
  11. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2023 Jan 02. pii: S0006-291X(22)01769-7. [Epub ahead of print]644 105-111
      RNautophagy/DNautophagy (RDA) is an autophagic process that refers to the direct uptake of nucleic acids by lysosomes for degradation. Autophagy relies on lysosomes and lysosomal acidification is crucial for the degradation of intracellular components. However, whether lysosomal acidification interferes with nucleic acid uptake during RDA is unclear. In this study, we focused on vacuolar H+-ATPase (V-ATPase), the major proton pump responsible for maintaining an acidic pH in lysosomes. Our results show that lysosomes take up nucleic acids independently of the intralysosomal acidic pH during RDA. Isolated lysosomes treated with bafilomycin A1, a potent V-ATPase inhibitor, did not degrade, but took up RNA at similar levels as the control lysosomes. Similarly, the knockdown of Atp6v1a, the gene that encodes V-ATPase catalytic subunit A, did not affect the RNA uptake ability of isolated lysosomes. In addition, we demonstrated that nucleic acid uptake by isolated lysosomes necessitates ATP consumption, although V-ATPase is not required for the uptake process. These results broaden our understanding of the mechanisms underlying nucleic acid degradation via autophagy.
    Keywords:  Bafilomycin A1; DNautophagy; Lysosomal acidification; Nucleic acid uptake; RNautophagy; V-ATPase
  12. Biomolecules. 2022 Dec 20. pii: 2. [Epub ahead of print]13(1):
      Skeletal muscle mass is determined by the balance between muscle protein synthesis (MPS) and degradation. Several intracellular signaling pathways control this balance, including mammalian/mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) complex 1 (C1). Activation of this pathway in skeletal muscle is controlled, in part, by nutrition (e.g., amino acids and alcohol) and exercise (e.g., resistance exercise (RE)). Acute and chronic alcohol use can result in myopathy, and evidence points to altered mTORC1 signaling as a contributing factor. Moreover, individuals who regularly perform RE or vigorous aerobic exercise are more likely to use alcohol frequently and in larger quantities. Therefore, alcohol may antagonize beneficial exercise-induced increases in mTORC1 pathway signaling. The purpose of this review is to synthesize up-to-date evidence regarding mTORC1 pathway signaling and the independent and combined effects of acute alcohol and RE on activation of the mTORC1 pathway. Overall, acute alcohol impairs and RE activates mTORC1 pathway signaling; however, effects vary by model, sex, feeding, training status, quantity, etc., such that anabolic stimuli may partially rescue the alcohol-mediated pathway inhibition. Likewise, the impact of alcohol on RE-induced mTORC1 pathway signaling appears dependent on several factors including nutrition and sex, although many questions remain unanswered. Accordingly, we identify gaps in the literature that remain to be elucidated to fully understand the independent and combined impacts of alcohol and RE on mTORC1 pathway signaling.
    Keywords:  alcohol; mTOR; myopathy; protein synthesis; resistance exercise
  13. FEBS Lett. 2023 Jan 17.
      Autophagy and Hippo signaling pathways both play important roles in cell homeostasis and are often involved in tumorigenesis. However, the crosstalk between these two signal pathways in response to stress conditions, such as nutrient deficiency, is incompletely understood. Here, we show that vesicular localized coiled-coil domain containing 115 (CCDC115) inhibits autophagy as well as Hippo signaling pathway under starvation. Moreover, we show that CCDC115 interacts with the HOPS complex. This interaction competes with STX17, thus inhibiting the fusion of autophagosomes with lysosomes. Hence, CCDC115 inhibits the autophagic degradation of yes-associated protein (YAP), thereby promoting cell proliferation in nutrient-restricted situation.
    Keywords:  CCDC115; HOPS complex; Hippo pathway; YAP; autophagy; cell proliferation
  14. Cancers (Basel). 2023 Jan 06. pii: 369. [Epub ahead of print]15(2):
      The Hedgehog receptor, Patched1 (PTCH1), is a well-known tumour suppressor. While the tumour suppressor's activity is mostly ascribed to its function as a repressor of the canonical Smoothened/Gli pathway, its C-terminal domain (CTD) was reported to have additional non-canonical functions. One of them is the reduction of autophagic flux through direct interaction with the Unc-51, like the autophagy activating kinase (ULK) complex subunit autophagy-related protein-101 (ATG101). With the aim of investigating whether this function of PTCH1 is important in cancer cell fitness, we first identified frameshift mutations in the CTD of PTCH1 in cancer databases. We demonstrated that those mutations disrupt PTCH1 interaction with ATG101 and increase autophagic flux. Using deletion mutants of the PTCH1 CTD in co-immunoprecipitation studies, we established that the 1309-1447 region is necessary and sufficient for interaction with ATG101. We next showed that the three most common PTCH1 CTD mutations in endometrial, stomach and colon adenocarcinomas that cause frameshifts at S1203, R1308 and Y1316 lack the ability to interact with ATG101 and limit autophagic flux, determined by bafilomycin A1-sensitive accumulation of the autophagy markers LC3BII and p62. We next engineered PTCH1 indel mutations at S1223 by CRISPR/Cas9 in SW620 colon cancer cells. Comparison of two independent clones harbouring PTCH1 S1223fs mutations to their isogenic parental cell lines expressing wild-type PTCH1 showed a significant increase in basal and rapamycin-stimulated autophagic flux, as predicted by loss of ATG101 interaction. Furthermore, the PTCH1 CTD mutant cells displayed increased proliferation in the presence of rapamycin and reduced sensitivity to glycolysis inhibitors. Our findings suggest that loss of the PTCH1-ATG101 interaction by mutations in the CTD of PTCH1 in cancer might confer a selective advantage by stimulating autophagy and facilitating adaptation to nutrient deprivation conditions.
    Keywords:  ATG101; Hedgehog; PTCH1; autophagy; cancer; glycolysis
  15. Biomolecules. 2022 Dec 30. pii: 77. [Epub ahead of print]13(1):
      Previous studies demonstrated that dysfunctional yeast proteasomes accumulate in the insoluble protein deposit (IPOD), described as the final deposition site for amyloidogenic insoluble proteins and that this compartment also mediates proteasome ubiquitination, a prerequisite for their targeted autophagy (proteaphagy). Here, we examined the solubility state of proteasomes subjected to autophagy as a result of their inactivation, or under nutrient starvation. In both cases, only soluble proteasomes could serve as a substrate to autophagy, suggesting a modified model whereby substrates for proteaphagy are dysfunctional proteasomes in their near-native soluble state, and not as previously believed, those sequestered at the IPOD. Furthermore, the insoluble fraction accumulating in the IPOD represents an alternative pathway, enabling the removal of inactive proteasomes that escaped proteaphagy when the system became saturated. Altogether, we suggest that the relocalization of proteasomes to soluble aggregates represents a general stage of proteasome recycling through autophagy.
    Keywords:  autophagy; proteasome; protein quality control
  16. Exp Gerontol. 2023 Jan 16. pii: S0531-5565(23)00012-8. [Epub ahead of print] 112091
      Senescence is a phenomenon defined by alterations in cellular organelles and is the primary cause of aging and aging-related diseases. Recent studies have shown that oncogene-induced senescence is driven by activation of serine/threonine protein kinases (AKT1, AKT2 and AKT3). In this study, we evaluated twelve AKT inhibitors and revealed GDC0068 as a potential agent to ameliorate senescence. Senescence-ameliorating effect was evident from the finding that GDC0068 yielded lysosomal functional recovery as observed by reduction in lysosomal mass and induction in autophagic flux. Furthermore, GDC0068-mediated restoration of lysosomal function activated the removal of dysfunctional mitochondria, resulting in restoration of mitochondrial function. Together, our findings revealed a unique mechanism by which senescence is recovered by functional restoration of lysosomes and mitochondria through modulation of AKT activity.
    Keywords:  AKT; GDC0068; Lysosome; Mitochondria; Senescence amelioration
  17. Curr Treat Options Oncol. 2023 Jan 21.
      OPINION STATEMENT: The primordial autophagy process, originally identified as a starvation response in baker's yeast, has since been shown to have a wide spectrum of functions other than survival. In many cases, it is accepted that autophagy operates as a key tumor suppressor mechanism that protects cells from adverse environmental cues by enforcing homeostasis and maintaining the functional and structural integrity of organelles. Paradoxically, heightened states of autophagy are also seen in some cancers, leading to the prevailing view that the pro-survival aspect of autophagy might be hijacked by some tumors to promote their fitness and pathogenesis. Notably, recent studies have revealed a broad range of cell-autonomous autophagy in reshaping tumor microenvironment and maintaining lineage integrity and immune homeostasis, calling for a renewed understanding of autophagy beyond its classical roles in cell survival. Here, we evaluate the increasing body of literature that argues the "double-edged" consequences of autophagy manipulation in cancer therapy, with a particular focus on highly plastic and mutagenic melanoma. We also discuss the caveats that must be considered when evaluating whether autophagy blockade is the effector mechanism of some anti-cancer therapy particularly associated with lysosomotropic agents. If autophagy proteins are to be properly exploited as targets for anticancer drugs, their diverse and complex roles should also be considered.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Immunotherapy; Lysosome; Melanoma; Skin cancer; Targeted therapy
  18. Adv Biol Regul. 2022 Dec 31. pii: S2212-4926(22)00086-0. [Epub ahead of print] 100946
      The mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR), a serine/threonine kinase, functions by forming two multiprotein complexes termed mTORC1 and mTORC2. Glioblastoma (GBM) is a uniformly fatal brain tumor that remains incurable partly due to the existence of untreatable cancer stem cells (CSC). The pathogenesis of GBM is largely due to the loss of the tumor suppressor gene PTEN, which is implicated in the aberrant activation of the mTOR pathway. The major cause of tumor recurrence, growth, and invasion is the presence of the unique population of CSC. Resistance to conventional therapies appears to be caused by both extensive genetic abnormalities and dysregulation of the transcription landscape. Consequently, CSCs have emerged as targets of interest in new treatment paradigms. Evidence suggests that inhibition of the mTOR pathway can also be applied to target CSCs. Here we explored the role of the mTOR pathway in the regulation of stem cells of GBM by treating them with inhibitors of canonical PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathways such as rapamycin (mTORC1 inhibitor), PP242 (ATP binding mTORC1/2 inhibitor), LY294002 (PI3K inhibitor), and MAPK inhibitor, U0126. A significant number of GBM tumors expressed stem cell marker nestin and activated mTOR (pmTORSer2448), with most tumor cells co-expressing both markers. The expression of stem cell marker NANOG was suppressed following rapamycin treatment. The neurospheres were disrupted following rapamycin and LY294002 treatments. Rapamycin or PP242 along with differentiating agent All-trans-retinoic acid reduced stem cell proliferation. Treatment with novel small molecule inhibitors of mTORC1/2 demonstrated that Torin1 and Torin2 suppressed the proliferation of GBM CSC, while XL388 was less effective. Torin1 and XL388 delay the process of self-renewal as compared to controls, whereas Torin2 halted self-renewal. Torin2 was able to eradicate tumor cells. In conclusion, Torin2 effectively targeted CSCs of GBM by halting self-renewal and inhibiting cell proliferation, underscoring the use of Torin2 in the treatment of GBM.
    Keywords:  Glioblastoma; Stem cell; mTOR; mTORC1; mTORC2
  19. Antioxid Redox Signal. 2023 Jan 15.
      Significance: Type 2 diabetes, which is related to oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction, is one of the most prevalent diseases in the world. In the last decade, alterations in autophagy have been shown to play a fundamental role in the development and control of type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, mitophagy has been recognised as a key player in eliminating dysfunctional mitochondria in this disease. Recent advances: Recently, much progress has been made in understanding the molecular events associated with oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, and alterations in autophagy and mitophagy in type 2 diabetes. Critical issue: Despite increasing evidence of a relationship between mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress, and alterations of autophagy and mitophagy and their role in the pathophysiolology of type 2 diabetes, effective therapeutic strategies to combat the disease through targeting mitochondria, autophagy and mitophagy are yet to be implemented. Future directions: This review provides a wide perspective of the existing literature concerning the complicated interplay between autophagy, mitophagy and mitochondrial dysfunction in type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, potential therapeutic targets based on these molecular mechanisms are explored.
  20. JACC Basic Transl Sci. 2022 Dec;7(12): 1214-1228
      The key biological "drivers" that are responsible for reverse left ventricle (LV) remodeling are not well understood. To gain an understanding of the role of the autophagy-lysosome pathway in reverse LV remodeling, we used a pathophysiologically relevant murine model of reversible heart failure, wherein pressure overload by transaortic constriction superimposed on acute coronary artery (myocardial infarction) ligation leads to a heart failure phenotype that is reversible by hemodynamic unloading. Here we show transaortic constriction + myocardial infarction leads to decreased flux through the autophagy-lysosome pathway with the accumulation of damaged proteins and organelles in cardiac myocytes, whereas hemodynamic unloading is associated with restoration of autophagic flux to normal levels with incomplete removal of damaged proteins and organelles in myocytes and reverse LV remodeling, suggesting that restoration of flux is insufficient to completely restore myocardial proteostasis. Enhancing autophagic flux with adeno-associated virus 9-transcription factor EB resulted in more favorable reverse LV remodeling in mice that had undergone hemodynamic unloading, whereas overexpressing transcription factor EB in mice that have not undergone hemodynamic unloading leads to increased mortality, suggesting that the therapeutic outcomes of enhancing autophagic flux will depend on the conditions in which flux is being studied.
    Keywords:  AAV9, adeno-associated virus 9; CMV, cytomegalovirus; CQ, chloroquine; GFP, green red fluorescent protein; HF, heart failure; HF-DB, TAC + MI mice that have undergone debanding; LFEF, left ventricular ejection fraction; LV, left ventricle; MI, myocardial infarction; RFP, red fluorescent protein; TAC, transaortic constriction; TEM, transmission electron microscopic; TFEB, transcription factor EB; autophagy; dsDNA, double stranded DNA; eGFP, enhanced green fluorescent protein; mTOR, mammalian target of rapamycin; reverse left ventricle remodeling
  21. Curr Issues Mol Biol. 2022 Dec 31. 45(1): 327-336
      The COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019), caused by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), severely affects mainly individuals with pre-existing comorbidities. Here our aim was to correlate the mTOR (mammalian/mechanistic Target of Rapamycin) and autophagy pathways with the disease severity. Through western blotting and RNA analysis, we found increased mTOR signaling and suppression of genes related to autophagy, lysosome, and vesicle fusion in Vero E6 cells infected with SARS-CoV-2 as well as in transcriptomic data mining of bronchoalveolar epithelial cells from severe COVID-19 patients. Immunofluorescence co-localization assays also indicated that SARS-CoV-2 colocalizes within autophagosomes but not with a lysosomal marker. Our findings indicate that SARS-CoV-2 can benefit from compromised autophagic flux and inhibited exocytosis in individuals with chronic hyperactivation of mTOR signaling.
    Keywords:  COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; autophagic flux; mTOR; single-cell analysis
  22. Cells. 2023 Jan 04. pii: 221. [Epub ahead of print]12(2):
      Cells from glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) feature up-regulation of the mechanistic Target of Rapamycin (mTOR), which brings deleterious effects on malignancy and disease course. At the cellular level, up-regulation of mTOR affects a number of downstream pathways and suppresses autophagy, which is relevant for the neurobiology of GBM. In fact, autophagy acts on several targets, such as protein clearance and mitochondrial status, which are key in promoting the malignancy GBM. A defective protein clearance extends to cellular prion protein (PrPc). Recent evidence indicates that PrPc promotes stemness and alters mitochondrial turnover. Therefore, the present study measures whether in GBM cells abnormal amount of PrPc and mitochondrial alterations are concomitant in baseline conditions and whether they are reverted by mTOR inhibition. Proteins related to mitochondrial turnover were concomitantly assessed. High amounts of PrPc and altered mitochondria were both mitigated dose-dependently by the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin, which produced a persistent activation of the autophagy flux and shifted proliferating cells from S to G1 cell cycle phase. Similarly, mTOR suppression produces a long-lasting increase of proteins promoting mitochondrial turnover, including Pink1/Parkin. These findings provide novel evidence about the role of autophagy in the neurobiology of GBM.
    Keywords:  DRP1 lysosomes; Fis1; Parkin; Pink1; cytofluorimetry; mTOR; mitochondrial fission; rapamycin
  23. Signal Transduct Target Ther. 2023 Jan 16. 8(1): 32
      Autophagy is a conserved lysosomal degradation pathway where cellular components are dynamically degraded and re-processed to maintain physical homeostasis. However, the physiological effect of autophagy appears to be multifaced. On the one hand, autophagy functions as a cytoprotective mechanism, protecting against multiple diseases, especially tumor, cardiovascular disorders, and neurodegenerative and infectious disease. Conversely, autophagy may also play a detrimental role via pro-survival effects on cancer cells or cell-killing effects on normal body cells. During disorder onset and progression, the expression levels of autophagy-related regulators and proteins encoded by autophagy-related genes (ATGs) are abnormally regulated, giving rise to imbalanced autophagy flux. However, the detailed mechanisms and molecular events of this process are quite complex. Epigenetic, including DNA methylation, histone modifications and miRNAs, and post-translational modifications, including ubiquitination, phosphorylation and acetylation, precisely manipulate gene expression and protein function, and are strongly correlated with the occurrence and development of multiple diseases. There is substantial evidence that autophagy-relevant regulators and machineries are subjected to epigenetic and post-translational modulation, resulting in alterations in autophagy levels, which subsequently induces disease or affects the therapeutic effectiveness to agents. In this review, we focus on the regulatory mechanisms mediated by epigenetic and post-translational modifications in disease-related autophagy to unveil potential therapeutic targets. In addition, the effect of autophagy on the therapeutic effectiveness of epigenetic drugs or drugs targeting post-translational modification have also been discussed, providing insights into the combination with autophagy activators or inhibitors in the treatment of clinical diseases.
  24. Autophagy. 2023 Jan 18. 1-19
      Excessive and prolonged neuroinflammation following traumatic brain injury (TBI) contributes to long-term tissue damage and poor functional outcomes. However, the mechanisms contributing to exacerbated inflammatory responses after brain injury remain poorly understood. Our previous work showed that macroautophagy/autophagy flux is inhibited in neurons following TBI in mice and contributes to neuronal cell death. In the present study, we demonstrate that autophagy is also inhibited in activated microglia and infiltrating macrophages, and that this potentiates injury-induced neuroinflammatory responses. Macrophage/microglia-specific knockout of the essential autophagy gene Becn1 led to overall increase in neuroinflammation after TBI. In particular, we observed excessive activation of the innate immune responses, including both the type-I interferon and inflammasome pathways. Defects in microglial and macrophage autophagy following injury were associated with decreased phagocytic clearance of danger/damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMP) responsible for activation of the cellular innate immune responses. Our data also demonstrated a role for precision autophagy in targeting and degradation of innate immune pathways components, such as the NLRP3 inflammasome. Finally, inhibition of microglial/macrophage autophagy led to increased neurodegeneration and worse long-term cognitive outcomes after TBI. Conversely, increasing autophagy by treatment with rapamycin decreased inflammation and improved outcomes in wild-type mice after TBI. Overall, our work demonstrates that inhibition of autophagy in microglia and infiltrating macrophages contributes to excessive neuroinflammation following brain injury and in the long term may prevent resolution of inflammation and tissue regeneration.Abbreviations: Becn1/BECN1, beclin 1, autophagy related; CCI, controlled cortical impact; Cybb/CYBB/NOX2: cytochrome b-245, beta polypeptide; DAMP, danger/damage-associated molecular patterns; Il1b/IL1B/Il-1β, interleukin 1 beta; LAP, LC3-associated phagocytosis; Map1lc3b/MAP1LC3/LC3, microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3 beta; Mefv/MEFV/TRIM20: Mediterranean fever; Nos2/NOS2/iNOS: nitric oxide synthase 2, inducible; Nlrp3/NLRP3, NLR family, pyrin domain containing 3; Sqstm1/SQSTM1/p62, sequestosome 1; TBI, traumatic brain injury; Tnf/TNF/TNF-α, tumor necrosis factor; Ulk1/ULK1, unc-51 like kinase 1.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; innate immunity; macrophage; microglia; neuroinflammation; traumatic brain injury
  25. Food Chem Toxicol. 2023 Jan 12. pii: S0278-6915(23)00011-X. [Epub ahead of print]173 113609
      Curcumin, a natural hydrophobic polyphenol, carries significant anticancer activity. The protein kinase B (AKT)/the mammalian target of the rapamycin (mTOR) pathway and autophagy are well known to be involved in carcinogenesis, and usually, inhibition of mTOR is the main reason to promote autophagy. In this study, however, autophagy and mTOR were found to be inhibited simultaneously by curcumin treatments, and both of them played an important role in the effect of curcumin on suppressing the growth of A549 cells. Tunicamycin (TM), the activator of Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER) stress, increased both autophagy and AKT/mTOR, while curcumin could significantly decrease TM-induced autophagy and AKT/mTOR. Furthermore, curcumin could inhibit TM-induced aerobic glycolysis in A549 cells, and decrease the level of cycle-related and migration-related proteins. Blocking activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4) by siRNA strongly reduced both the expression of autophagy-related proteins and AKT/mTOR. ChIP assay illustrated that ATF4 protein could bind to the promotor sequence of either ATG4B or AKT1. The transplantation tumor experiment showed that the weight and volume of the transplanted tumors were reduced significantly in the BALB/c mice subcutaneously injected with A549 cells treated with curcumin. Moreover, intranasal administration of curcumin decreased the protein level of autophagy, AKT/mTOR and ER stress in lung tissues of BALB/c mice. Taken together, our results demonstrated that inhibition of ER stress-dependent ATF4-mediated autophagy and AKT/mTOR pathway plays an important role in anticancer effect of curcumin.
    Keywords:  AKT/mTOR; ATF4; Autophagy; Curcumin; ER stress; Glycolysis
  26. JCI Insight. 2023 Jan 17. pii: e162498. [Epub ahead of print]
      Obesity is a major risk factor for end-stage kidney disease. We previously found that lysosomal dysfunction and impaired autophagic flux contributed to lipotoxicity in obesity-related kidney disease, both in humans and experimental animal models. However, the regulatory factors involved in countering renal lipotoxicity are largely unknown. Here we found that palmitic acid (PA) strongly promoted dephosphorylation and nuclear translocation of transcription factor EB (TFEB) by inhibiting the mechanistic target of rapamycin kinase complex 1 (MTORC1) pathway in a Rag GTPase-dependent manner, although these effects gradually diminished after extended treatment. We then investigated the role of TFEB in the pathogenesis of obesity-related kidney disease. Proximal tubular epithelial cell (PTEC)-specific Tfeb-deficient mice fed a high-fat diet (HFD) exhibited greater phospholipid accumulation in enlarged lysosomes, which manifested as multilamellar bodies (MLBs). Activated TFEB mediated lysosomal exocytosis of phospholipids, which help reduce MLB accumulation in PTECs. Furthermore, HFD-fed PTEC-specific Tfeb-deficient mice showed autophagic stagnation and exacerbated injury upon renal ischemia-reperfusion. Finally, higher body mass index was associated with increased vacuolation and decreased nuclear TFEB in the proximal tubules of chronic kidney disease patients. These results indicate a critical role of TFEB-mediated lysosomal exocytosis in counteracting renal lipotoxicity.
    Keywords:  Chronic kidney disease; Lysosomes; Metabolism; Nephrology; Obesity
  27. Antioxidants (Basel). 2023 Jan 04. pii: 124. [Epub ahead of print]12(1):
      Deregulation of redox homeostasis is often associated with an accelerated aging process. Ribose-5-phosphate isomerase A (RPIA) mediates redox homeostasis in the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP). Our previous study demonstrated that Rpi knockdown boosts the healthspan in Drosophila. However, whether the knockdown of rpia-1, the Rpi ortholog in Caenorhabditis elegans, can improve the healthspan in C. elegans remains unknown. Here, we report that spatially and temporally limited knockdown of rpia-1 prolongs lifespan and improves the healthspan in C. elegans, reflecting the evolutionarily conserved phenotypes observed in Drosophila. Ubiquitous and pan-neuronal knockdown of rpia-1 both enhance tolerance to oxidative stress, reduce polyglutamine aggregation, and improve the deteriorated body bending rate caused by polyglutamine aggregation. Additionally, rpia-1 knockdown temporally in the post-developmental stage and spatially in the neuron display enhanced lifespan. Specifically, rpia-1 knockdown in glutamatergic or cholinergic neurons is sufficient to increase lifespan. Importantly, the lifespan extension by rpia-1 knockdown requires the activation of autophagy and AMPK pathways and reduced TOR signaling. Moreover, the RNA-seq data support our experimental findings and reveal potential novel downstream targets. Together, our data disclose the specific spatial and temporal conditions and the molecular mechanisms for rpia-1 knockdown-mediated longevity in C. elegans. These findings may help the understanding and improvement of longevity in humans.
    Keywords:  AMP activated protein kinase (AMPK); C. elegans; autophagy; lifespan; pentose phosphate pathway (PPP); ribose-5-phosphate isomerase A (RPIA); target of rapamycin (TOR)
  28. Cell Div. 2023 Jan 17. 18(1): 1
      BACKGROUND: Protein p62 (sequestosome 1) encoded by gene SQSTM1 plays a vital role in mediating protectively selective autophagy in tumor cells under stressed conditions. CircSQSTM1 (hsa_circ_0075323) is a circular transcript generated from gene SQSTM1 (chr5:179260586-179260782) by back-splicing. However, the potential role of hsa_hsa_circ_0075323 in glioblastoma (GBM) remains unclear. Here, we aimed to explore the biological function of hsa_circ_0075323 in GBM and its relationship with autophagy regulation.RESULTS: Hsa_circ_0075323 is highly expressed in GBM cells and mainly locates in the cytoplasm. Inhibition of hsa_circ_0075323 in U87-MG and T98G cells attenuated proliferation and invasion ability significantly, while upregulation of has_ circ_0075323 enhanced proliferation and migration of U251-MG and A172 cells. Mechanistically, depletion of hsa_circ_0075323 in GBM cells resulted in impaired autophagy, as indicated by increased expression of p62 and decreased expression of LC3B.
    CONCLUSIONS: Hsa_circ_0075323 regulates p62-mediated autophagy pathway to promote GBM progression and may serve as a prognostic biomarker potentially.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Glioblastoma; Invasion; Proliferation; hsa_circ_0075323
  29. Biol Chem. 2023 Jan 20.
      Lipids function as the major building blocks of cellular membranes, as signaling molecules and as energy stores for metabolism. These important functions require a precise regulation of lipid biosynthesis, transport, turnover and storage. Lipids are exchanged among organelles through a sophisticated network of vesicular and non-vesicular transport routes. Lysosomes, as the main catabolic organelle, are at the center of this network and have recently evolved as one of the master-regulators of cellular lipid metabolism. Lipids from both endogenous and exogenous sources can be processed, sensed and sorted in and out of the lysosome. In this review, we focus on the role of the lysosome in lipid catabolism, transport and signaling. We highlight recent discoveries on the transport of lipids out of the lysosomal lumen and their exchange with other organelles via membrane contact sites. We also discuss the direct role of lysosomal lipids in the TORC1 signaling pathway, a regulator of cellular metabolism. Finally, we address lysosomal biogenesis, its role in the sorting of lipid metabolic enzymes and the dysregulation of these processes in disease.
    Keywords:  TORC1; contact sites; lipids; lysosome; sphingolipids; vacuole
  30. Cell Chem Biol. 2023 Jan 19. pii: S2451-9456(22)00457-3. [Epub ahead of print]30(1): 3-21
      Protein homeostasis deficiencies underlie various cancers and neurodegenerative diseases. The ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) and autophagy are responsible for most of the protein degradation in mammalian cells and, therefore, represent attractive targets for cancer therapy and that of neurodegenerative diseases. The ATPase p97, also known as VCP, is a central component of the UPS that extracts and disassembles its substrates from various cellular locations and also regulates different steps in autophagy. Several UPS- and autophagy-targeting drugs are in clinical trials. In this review, we focus on the development of various p97 inhibitors, including the ATPase inhibitors CB-5083 and CB-5339, which reached clinical trials by demonstrating effective anti-tumor activity across various tumor models, providing an effective alternative to targeting protein degradation for cancer therapy. Here, we provide an overview of how different p97 inhibitors have evolved over time both as basic research tools and effective UPS-targeting cancer therapies in the clinic.
    Keywords:  CB-5083; CB-5339; anti-inflammatory; antimicrobial; cancer therapy; p97 inhibitors; p97/VCP
  31. JACC Basic Transl Sci. 2022 Dec;7(12): 1229-1231
    Keywords:  autophagy; left ventricular assist device; mechanical unloading; reverse remodeling
  32. Nat Commun. 2023 Jan 16. 14(1): 235
      Glucagon has emerged as a key regulator of extracellular amino acid (AA) homeostasis. Insufficient glucagon signaling results in hyperaminoacidemia, which drives adaptive proliferation of glucagon-producing α cells. Aside from mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1), the role of other AA sensors in α cell proliferation has not been described. Here, using both genders of mouse islets and glucagon receptor (gcgr)-deficient zebrafish (Danio rerio), we show α cell proliferation requires activation of the extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase (ERK1/2) by the AA-sensitive calcium sensing receptor (CaSR). Inactivation of CaSR dampened α cell proliferation, which was rescued by re-expression of CaSR or activation of Gq, but not Gi, signaling in α cells. CaSR was also unexpectedly necessary for mTORC1 activation in α cells. Furthermore, coactivation of Gq and mTORC1 induced α cell proliferation independent of hyperaminoacidemia. These results reveal another AA-sensitive mediator and identify pathways necessary and sufficient for hyperaminoacidemia-induced α cell proliferation.
  33. Bioorg Chem. 2023 Jan 12. pii: S0045-2068(23)00016-0. [Epub ahead of print]132 106356
      The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) has been proved to be an effective target for cancer therapy. Two kinds of mTOR inhibitors, the rapalogs and mTOR kinase inhibitors (TORKi), have been developed and clinically validated in several types of malignancies. Compared with rapalogs, TORKi can exert better antitumor activity by inhibiting both mTORC1 and mTORC2, but the clinical development of current TORKi candidates has been relative slow, more TORKi with novel scaffold need to be developed to expand the current pipelines. In this study, a series of 9-methyl-9H-purine and thieno[3, 2-d]pyrimidine derivatives were designed, synthesized and biological evaluation. Most of these compounds exhibited good mTOR kinase inhibitory activity and selectivity over PI3Kα. Subsequent antiproliferative assay allowed us to identify the lead compound 15i, which display nanomolar to low micromolar IC50s against six human cancer cell lines. 15i could induce cell cycle arrest of MCF-7, PC-3 and A549 cells at the G0/G1 phase and suppress the migration and invasion of these cancer cells by suppressing the phosphorylation of AKT and P70S6 kinase. It could also regulate autophagy-related proteins to induce autophagy. Therefore, 15i would be a starting point for the development of new TORKi as anticancer drug.
    Keywords:  Antiproliferative activity; Autophagy; mTOR kinase inhibitors
  34. J Endocrinol. 2023 Jan 01. pii: JOE-22-0338. [Epub ahead of print]
      Thyroid hormones (TH) are vital for brain functions, while TH deficiency, i. e. hypothyroidism induces neurological impairment in children and adults. Cerebellar neuronal apoptosis and motor deficits are crucial events in hypothyroidism; however, the underlying mechanism is less-known. Using a methimazole-treated hypothyroidism rat model, we investigated cerebellar autophagy, growth factor and apoptotic mechanisms that participate in motor functions. We first identified that methimazole up-regulated cerebellar autophagy, marked by enhanced LC3B-II, Beclin-1, ATG7, ATG5-12, p-AMPKα/AMPKα and p62 degradation as well as reduced p-AKT/AKT, p-mTOR/mTOR and p-ULK1/ULK1 in developing and young adult rats. We probed upstream effectors of this abnormal autophagy and detected methimazole-induced reduction in cerebellar phospho-Epidermal growth factor receptor (p-EGFR)/EGFR and Heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor (HB-EGF). Here, while a thyroxine-induced TH replenishment alleviated autophagy process and restored HB-EGF/EGFR, HB-EGF treatment regulated AKT-mTOR and autophagy signaling in the cerebellum. Moreover, neurons of the rat cerebellum demonstrated this reduced HB-EGF-dependent increased autophagy in hypothyroidism. We further checked whether the above events related with cerebellar neuronal apoptosis and motor functions. We detected that comparable to thyroxine, treatment with HB-EGF or autophagy inhibitor, 3-MA, reduced methimazole-induced decrease in Nissl staining and increase in c-caspase-3 and TUNEL-+ve apoptotic count of cerebellar neurons. Additionally, 3-MA, HB-EGF and thyroxine attenuated the methimazole-induced diminution in riding time on rota-rod and grip strength for motor performance of rats. Overall, our study enlightens HB-EGF/EGFR-dependent autophagy mechanism as a key to cerebellar neuronal loss and functional impairments in developmental hypothyroidism, which may be inhibited by HB-EGF and 3-MA treatments, like thyroxine.
  35. FASEB Bioadv. 2023 Jan;5(1): 43-51
      5-Fluorouracil (5-FU) is a cornerstone drug used to treat colorectal cancer (CRC). However, the prolonged exposure of CRC cells to 5-FU results in acquired resistance. We have previously demonstrated that levels of the 5-fluorodeoxyuridylate (FdUMP) covalent complex with thymidylate synthase (FdUMP-TS) and free-TS (native enzyme) are higher in 5-FU-resistant CRC cells than in the parental cell line (HCT116). Accordingly, resistant cells may have an efficient system for trapping and removing FdUMP-TS, thus imparting resistance. In this study, using a model of 5-FU-resistant CRC cells generated by repeated exposure, the role of autophagy in the elimination of FdUMP-TS in resistant cells was investigated. The resistant cells showed greater sensitivity to autophagy inhibitors than that of parental cells. Autophagy inhibition increased 5-FU cytotoxicity more substantially in resistant cells than in parental cells. Furthermore, autophagy inhibition increased FdUMP-TS protein accumulation in resistant cells. Our findings suggest that resistance to 5-FU is mediated by autophagy as a system to eliminate FdUMP-TS and may guide the use and optimization of combination therapies involving autophagy inhibitors.
    Keywords:  5‐fluorodeoxyuridylate; 5‐fluorodeoxyuridylate covalent complex with thymidylate synthase; 5‐fluorouracil; autophagy; colorectal cancer; drug resistance; thymidylate synthase
  36. J Biomed Res. 2022 Aug 28. 37(1): 1-14
      Aging, subjected to scientific scrutiny, is extensively defined as a time-dependent decline in functions that involves the majority of organisms. The time-dependent accretion of cellular lesions is generally a universal trigger of aging, while mitochondrial dysfunction is a sign of aging. Dysfunctional mitochondria are identified and removed by mitophagy, a selective form of macroautophagy. Increased mitochondrial damage resulting from reduced biogenesis and clearance may promote the aging process. The primary purpose of this paper is to illustrate in detail the effects of mitophagy on aging and emphasize the associations between mitophagy and other signs of aging, including dietary restriction, telomere shortening, epigenetic alterations, and protein imbalance. The evidence regarding the effects of these elements on aging is still limited. And although the understanding of relationship between mitophagy and aging has been long-awaited, to analyze details of such a relationship remains the main challenge in aging studies.
    Keywords:  aging; dietary restriction; epigenetic alterations; mitophagy; protein imbalance; telomere shortening
  37. Redox Biol. 2023 Jan 11. pii: S2213-2317(23)00007-1. [Epub ahead of print]60 102606
      OBJECTIVES: To determine the role of MYL4 regulation of lysosomal function and its disturbance in fibrotic atrial cardiomyopathy.BACKGROUND: We have previously demonstrated that the atrial-specific essential light chain protein MYL4 is required for atrial contractile, electrical, and structural integrity. MYL4 mutation/dysfunction leads to atrial fibrosis, standstill, and dysrhythmia. However, the underlying pathogenic mechanisms remain unclear.
    METHODS AND RESULTS: Rats subjected to knock-in of a pathogenic MYL4 mutant (p.E11K) developed fibrotic atrial cardiomyopathy. Proteome analysis and single-cell RNA sequencing indicate enrichment of autophagy pathways in mutant-MYL4 atrial dysfunction. Immunofluorescence and electron microscopy revealed undegraded autophagic vesicles accumulated in MYL4p.E11K rat atrium. Next, we identified that dysfunctional MYL4 protein impairs autophagy flux in vitro and in vivo. Cardiac lysosome positioning and mobility were regulated by MYL4 in cardiomyocytes, which affected lysosomal acidification and maturation of lysosomal cathepsins. We then examined the effects of MYL4 overexpression via adenoviral gene-transfer on atrial cardiomyopathy induced by MYL4 mutation: MYL4 protein overexpression attenuated atrial structural remodeling and autophagy dysfunction.
    CONCLUSIONS: MYL4 regulates autophagic flux in atrial cardiomyocytes via lysosomal mobility. MYL4 overexpression attenuates MYL4 p.E11K induced fibrotic atrial cardiomyopathy, while correcting autophagy and lysosomal function. These results provide a molecular basis for MYL4-mutant induced fibrotic atrial cardiomyopathy and identify a potential biological-therapy approach for the treatment of atrial fibrosis.
    Keywords:  Atrial cardiomyopathy; Autophagy; Lysosome; Myosin light chain 4
  38. Mol Brain. 2023 Jan 18. 16(1): 9
      The consolidation of learned information into long-lasting memories requires the strengthening of synaptic connections through de novo protein synthesis. Translation initiation factors play a cardinal role in gating the production of new proteins thereby regulating memory formation. Both positive and negative regulators of translation play a critical role in learning and memory consolidation. The eukaryotic initiation factor 4E (eIF4E) homologous protein (4EHP, encoded by the gene Eif4e2) is a pivotal negative regulator of translation but its role in learning and memory is unknown. To address this gap in knowledge, we generated excitatory (glutamatergic: CaMKIIα-positive) and inhibitory (GABAergic: GAD65-positive) conditional knockout mice for 4EHP, which were analyzed in various behavioral memory tasks. Knockout of 4EHP in Camk2a-expressing neurons (4EHP-cKOexc) did not impact long-term memory in either contextual fear conditioning or Morris water maze tasks. Similarly, long-term contextual fear memory was not altered in Gad2-directed 4EHP knockout mice (4EHP-cKOinh). However, when subjected to a short-term T-maze working memory task, both mouse models exhibited impaired cognition. We therefore tested the hypothesis that de novo protein synthesis plays a direct role in working memory. We discovered that phosphorylation of ribosomal protein S6, a measure of mTORC1 activity, is dramatically reduced in the CA1 hippocampus of 4EHP-cKOexc mice. Consistently, genetic reduction of mTORC1 activity in either excitatory or inhibitory neurons was sufficient to impair working memory. Taken together, these findings indicate that translational control by 4EHP and mTORC1 in both excitatory and inhibitory neurons are necessary for working memory.
    Keywords:  GABAergic neurons; Glutamatergic neurons; Mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1); eIF4E homologous protein (4EHP)
  39. Curr Biol. 2023 Jan 06. pii: S0960-9822(22)01976-5. [Epub ahead of print]
      The development of neuronal connectivity requires stabilization of dynamic axonal branches at sites of synapse formation. Models that explain how axonal branching is coupled to synaptogenesis postulate molecular regulators acting in a spatiotemporally restricted fashion to ensure branching toward future synaptic partners while also stabilizing the emerging synaptic contacts between such partners. We investigated this question using neuronal circuit development in the Drosophila brain as a model system. We report that epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) activity is required in presynaptic axonal branches during two distinct temporal intervals to regulate circuit wiring in the developing Drosophila visual system. EGFR is required early to regulate primary axonal branching. EGFR activity is then independently required at a later stage to prevent degradation of the synaptic active zone protein Bruchpilot (Brp). Inactivation of EGFR results in a local increase of autophagy in presynaptic branches and the translocation of active zone proteins into autophagic vesicles. The protection of synaptic material during this later interval of wiring ensures the stabilization of terminal branches, circuit connectivity, and appropriate visual behavior. Phenotypes of EGFR inactivation can be rescued by increasing Brp levels or downregulating autophagy. In summary, we identify a temporally restricted molecular mechanism required for coupling axonal branching and synaptic stabilization that contributes to the emergence of neuronal wiring specificity.
    Keywords:  autophagy; brain development; neural circuit; synaptogenesis
  40. J Prev Alzheimers Dis. 2023 ;10(1): 95-103
      Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive cognitive decline, amyloid-β (Aβ) plaques and the formation of neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) composed of hyperphosphorylated tau. Increasing evidence has demonstrated that the damage of cell plays an important role in AD. Cell death is a critical phenomenon for physiological functions, which promotes AD pathogenesis. Programmed cell death, including necroptosis, pyroptosis, autophagy, and ferroptosis, have been discovered that have unique biological functions and pathophysiological characteristics. Here, we review the available evidence detailing the mechanisms of programmed microglial death, including pyroptosis, autophagy, and ferroptosis. We also highlight the role of programmed death of microglia during the process of AD and focus on the connection between the disease and cell death.
    Keywords:  Alzheimer’s disease; autophagy; cell death; ferroptosis; microglia; pyroptosis
  41. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2023 ;2023 4654083
      Endothelial cell (EC) senescence characterized by an irreversible growth arrest leading to endothelial dysfunction has been implicated in vascular aging and aging-associated cardiovascular diseases. Autophagy plays a crucial role in the modulation of cellular senescence. Our previous showed that myosin 1b (Myo1b), one family of nonfilamentous class-1 myosin, was reported to be involved in the modulation of human smooth muscle cell senescence. However, the role of Myo1b in the modulation of EC senescence with links to autophagy has yet to be elucidated. In this study, we sought to explore the role of Myo1b in endothelial senescence and further elucidate the underlying mechanisms. Here, we show prominent upregulation of Myo1b in senescent ECs in comparison with nonsenescence ECs in both mRNA and protein expression levels. Silencing Myo1b in senescent cells ameliorates endothelial dysfunctions and reverses endothelial senescence phenotypic changes such as senescence-associated-β-galactosidase activity, cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21WAF1, expression of vascular adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM1) and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM1), and the senescence-associated cytokines. In contrast, in nonsenescent cells, overexpressing Myo1b promotes endothelial senescence and suppresses autophagy through the impairment of autophagosome and lysosome fusion. The interaction between Myo1b and LRRK2 through Myo1b tail domain promotes intracellular calcium elevation, which results in the inhibition of autophagic flux. In vitro and in vivo aging models, Myo1b knockdown in senescent ECs and wild type-aged mice is able to enhance autophagy and ameliorate aging-associated endothelial dysfunction. Taken together, our studies reveal a new function for Myo1b, that is, to couple LRRK2 assembly to promote an increase in intracellular calcium level, which impairs the autophagosome-lysosome fusion, and ultimately the promotion of EC senescence and vascular aging.
  42. Curr Biol. 2023 Jan 07. pii: S0960-9822(22)01978-9. [Epub ahead of print]
      Phagocytic clearance is important to provide cells with metabolites and regulate immune responses, but little is known about how phagolysosomes finally resolve their phagocytic cargo of cell corpses, cell debris, and pathogens. While studying the phagocytic clearance of non-apoptotic polar bodies in C. elegans, we previously discovered that phagolysosomes tubulate into small vesicles to facilitate corpse clearance within 1.5 h. Here, we show that phagolysosome vesiculation depends on amino acid export by the solute transporter SLC-36.1 and the activation of TORC1. We demonstrate that downstream of TORC1, BLOC-1-related complex (BORC) is de-repressed by Ragulator through the BORC subunit BLOS-7. In addition, the BORC subunit SAM-4 is needed continuously to recruit the small GTPase ARL-8 to the phagolysosome for tubulation. We find that disrupting the regulated GTP-GDP cycle of ARL-8 reduces tubulation by kinesin-1, delays corpse clearance, and mislocalizes ARL-8 away from lysosomes. We also demonstrate that mammalian phagocytes use BORC to promote phagolysosomal degradation, confirming the conserved importance of TOR and BORC. Finally, we show that HOPS is required after tubulation for the rapid degradation of cargo in small phagolysosomal vesicles, suggesting that additional rounds of lysosome fusion occur. Thus, by observing single phagolysosomes over time, we identified the molecular pathway regulating phagolysosome vesiculation that promotes efficient resolution of phagocytosed cargos.
    Keywords:  cell corpse clearance; phagolysosome resolution; phagosome maturation; polar body; small GTPase
  43. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2023 Jan 16. pii: S0147-6513(23)00061-1. [Epub ahead of print]251 114557
      Lead can damage neuron synapses in the hippocampus and cause synaptic plasticity losses, and learning, memory, and intelligence impairments. Previous studies have focused on the functional and structural plasticity of hippocampal synapses; however, the specific molecular mechanisms behind such impairments are not fully understood. This study aimed to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of cognitive impairment in rats following chronic lead exposure and mitigate or prevent lead toxicity in the central nervous system. We found that lead exposure caused significant damage to rat nervous systems, that is, compared with the control group, the lead treatment group had more autophagosomes in their hippocampal neurons; lower serum and hippocampal IGF-1 levels; lower hippocampal IGF-1, IGF-1R, PI3K, Akt, and mTOR gene expression; and upregulated hippocampal autophagy-associated proteins levels. Brain stereotactic technology was used to conduct autophagy inhibitor in vivo intervention experiments, and the results of these experiments suggest that the autophagy inhibitor DC661 inhibited lead-exposure-induced autophagy and autophagy-related gene expression in the rat hippocampus, possibly through activation of the IGF-1 pathway. Overall, our findings suggest that lead might activate hippocampal autophagy through the IGF-1/PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway. Therefore, this study provides a novel molecular mechanism underlying developmental toxicity in pubertal rats induced by lead exposure and provides a new target for anticipation and reversal of such neurotoxicity.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Hippocampus; IGF-1/PI3K/Akt/mTOR; Lead
  44. Nat Genet. 2023 Jan 19.
      Gene expression profiling has identified numerous processes altered in aging, but how these changes arise is largely unknown. Here we combined nascent RNA sequencing and RNA polymerase II chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by sequencing to elucidate the underlying mechanisms triggering gene expression changes in wild-type aged mice. We found that in 2-year-old liver, 40% of elongating RNA polymerases are stalled, lowering productive transcription and skewing transcriptional output in a gene-length-dependent fashion. We demonstrate that this transcriptional stress is caused by endogenous DNA damage and explains the majority of gene expression changes in aging in most mainly postmitotic organs, specifically affecting aging hallmark pathways such as nutrient sensing, autophagy, proteostasis, energy metabolism, immune function and cellular stress resilience. Age-related transcriptional stress is evolutionary conserved from nematodes to humans. Thus, accumulation of stochastic endogenous DNA damage during aging deteriorates basal transcription, which establishes the age-related transcriptome and causes dysfunction of key aging hallmark pathways, disclosing how DNA damage functionally underlies major aspects of normal aging.
  45. Aging Cell. 2023 Jan 20. e13774
      Repurposing drugs capable of extending lifespan and health span has a huge untapped potential in translational geroscience. Here, we searched for known compounds that elicit a similar gene expression signature to caloric restriction and identified rilmenidine, an I1-imidazoline receptor agonist and prescription medication for the treatment of hypertension. We then show that treating Caenorhabditis elegans with rilmenidine at young and older ages increases lifespan. We also demonstrate that the stress-resilience, health span, and lifespan benefits of rilmenidine treatment in C. elegans are mediated by the I1-imidazoline receptor nish-1, implicating this receptor as a potential longevity target. Consistent with the shared caloric-restriction-mimicking gene signature, supplementing rilmenidine to calorically restricted C. elegans, genetic reduction of TORC1 function, or rapamycin treatment did not further increase lifespan. The rilmenidine-induced longevity required the transcription factors FOXO/DAF-16 and NRF1,2,3/SKN-1. Furthermore, we find that autophagy, but not AMPK signaling, was needed for rilmenidine-induced longevity. Moreover, transcriptional changes similar to caloric restriction were observed in liver and kidney tissues in mice treated with rilmenidine. Together, these results reveal a geroprotective and potential caloric restriction mimetic effect by rilmenidine that warrant fresh lines of inquiry into this compound.
    Keywords:  aging; autophagy; drug repurposing; longevity; mTOR; nischarin receptor
  46. Antioxidants (Basel). 2022 Dec 27. pii: 56. [Epub ahead of print]12(1):
      Breast cancer (BC) is the second most common cancer worldwide in women. During the last decades, the mortality due to breast cancer has progressively decreased due to early diagnosis and the emergence of more effective new treatments. However, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) and triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) remain with poor prognoses. In our research group, we are proposing the GK-1 immunomodulatory peptide as a new alternative for immunotherapy of these aggressive tumors. GK-1 reduced the growth rate of established tumors and effectively reduced lung metastasis in the 4T1 experimental murine model of breast cancer. Herein, the effect of GK-1 on the redox state, mitochondrial metabolism, and autophagy of triple-negative tumors that can be linked to cancer evolution was studied. GK-1 decreased catalase activity, reduced glutathione (GSH) content and GSH/oxidized glutathione (GSSG) ratio while increased hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) production, GSSG, and protein carbonyl content, inducing oxidative stress (OS) in tumoral tissues. This imbalance between reactive oxygen species (ROS) and antioxidants was related to mitochondrial dysfunction and uncoupling, characterized by reduced mitochondrial respiratory parameters and dissipation of mitochondrial membrane potential (ΔΨm), respectively. Furthermore, GK-1 likely affected autophagy flux, confirmed by elevated levels of p62, a marker of autophagy flux. Overall, the induction of OS, dysfunction, and uncoupling of the mitochondria and the reduction of autophagy could be molecular mechanisms that underlie the reduction of the 4T1 breast cancer induced by GK-1.
    Keywords:  ATP synthase; GK-1; VDAC; autophagy flux; mitochondrial dysfunction; oxidative stress
  47. Biomedicines. 2023 Jan 14. pii: 213. [Epub ahead of print]11(1):
      Since its discovery in 1955, the understanding of the lysosome has continuously increased. Once considered a mere waste removal system, the lysosome is now recognised as a highly crucial cellular component for signalling and energy metabolism. This notable evolution raises the need for a summarized review of the lysosome's biology. As such, throughout this article, we will be compiling the current knowledge regarding the lysosome's biogenesis and functions. The comprehension of this organelle's inner mechanisms is crucial to perceive how its impairment can give rise to lysosomal disease (LD). In this review, we highlight some examples of LD fine-tuned mechanisms that are already established, as well as others, which are still under investigation. Even though the understanding of the lysosome and its pathologies has expanded through the years, some of its intrinsic molecular aspects remain unknown. In order to illustrate the complexity of the lysosomal diseases we provide a few examples that have challenged the established single gene-single genetic disorder model. As such, we believe there is a strong need for further investigation of the exact abnormalities in the pathological pathways in lysosomal disease.
    Keywords:  endocytic pathway; lysosomal disease; lysosome; lysosome biogenesis and function
  48. Hum Mol Genet. 2023 Jan 16. pii: ddad008. [Epub ahead of print]
      Membrane fusion is mediated by soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptor (SNARE) proteins. During neurotransmitter exocytosis, SNARE proteins on a synaptic vesicle and the target membrane form a complex, resulting in neurotransmitter release. N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor (NSF), a homohexameric ATPase, disassembles the complex, allowing individual SNARE proteins to be recycled. Recently, the association between pathogenic NSF variants and developmental and epileptic encephalopathy (DEE) was reported; however, the molecular pathomechanism of NSF-related DEE remains unclear. Here, three patients with de novo heterozygous NSF variants were presented, of which two were associated with DEE and one with a very mild phenotype. One of the DEE patients also had hypocalcemia from parathyroid hormone deficiency and neuromuscular junction impairment. Using PC12 cells, a neurosecretion model, we show that NSF with DEE-associated variants impaired the recycling of vesicular membrane proteins and vesicle enlargement in response to exocytotic stimulation. In addition, DEE-associated variants caused neurodegenerative change and defective autophagy through overactivation of the mTOR pathway. Treatment with rapamycin, an mTOR inhibitor, or overexpression of wild-type NSF ameliorated these phenotypes. Furthermore, neurons differentiated from patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells showed neurite degeneration, which was also alleviated by rapamycin treatment or gene correction using genome editing. Protein structure analysis of NSF revealed that DEE-associated variants might disrupt the transmission of the conformational change of NSF monomers and consequently halt the rotation of ATP hydrolysis, indicating a dominant negative mechanism. In conclusion, this study elucidates the pathomechanism underlying NSF-related DEE and identifies a potential therapeutic approach.