ABSTRACT: Macroautophagy/autophagy is a proteolytic pathway that is involved in both bulk degradation of cytoplasmic proteins as well as in selective degradation of cytoplasmic organelles. Autophagic flux is often defined as a measure of autophagic degradation activity, and many techniques exist to assess autophagic flux. Although these techniques have generated invaluable information about the autophagic system, the quest continues for developing methods that not only enhance sensitivity and provide a means of quantification, but also accurately reflect the dynamic character of the pathway. Based on the theoretical framework of metabolic control analysis, where the autophagosome flux is the quantitative description of the rate a flow along a pathway, here we treat the autophagy system as a multi-step pathway. We describe a single-cell fluorescence live-cell imaging-based approach that allows the autophagosome flux to be accurately measured. This method characterizes autophagy in terms of its complete autophagosome and autolysosome pool size, the autophagosome flux, J, and the transition time, ?, for autophagosomes and autolysosomes at steady state. This approach provides a sensitive quantitative method to measure autophagosome flux, pool sizes and transition time in cells and tissues of clinical relevance. ABBREVIATIONS:ATG5/APG5, autophagy-related 5; GFP, green fluorescent protein; LAMP1, lysosomal-associated membrane protein 1; MAP1LC3/LC3, microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3; J, flux; MEF, mouse embryonic fibroblast; MTOR, mechanistic target of rapamycin kinase; nA, number of autophagosomes; nAL, number of autolysosomes; nL, number of lysosomes; p-MTOR, phosphorylated mechanistic target of rapamycin kinase; RFP, red fluorescent protein; siRNA, small interfering RNA; ?, transition time; TEM, transmission electron microscopy.
Project description:To examine the temporal relationship of cortical autophagic flux with delayed neuronal cell death after hypoxia-ischemia (HI) in neonatal piglets. HI was produced with 45-min hypoxia and 7-min airway occlusion in 3-5-day-old piglets. Markers of autophagic, lysosomal and cell death signaling were studied via immunohistochemistry, immunoblotting, and histochemistry in piglet brains. In vitro, autophagy was impaired in cultured mouse cortical neurons treated with chloroquine with or without rapamycin for 1 d in the presence of Z-VAD-fmk, cyclosporine A, or vehicle control, and cell viability was assessed with the MTT assay. In vivo, neuronal cell death of sensorimotor cortex was delayed by 1-2 days after HI, whereas LC3-II, Beclin-1, PI3KC3, ATG12-ATG-5, and p-ULK1 increased by 1.5-6?h. Autophagosomes accumulated in cortical neurons by 1 d owing to enhanced autophagy and later to decreased autophagosome clearance, as indicated by LC3, Beclin-1, and p62 accumulation. Autophagy flux impairment was attributable to lysosomal dysfunction, as indicated by low lysosomal-associated membrane protein 2, cathepsin B, and cathepsin D levels at 1 d. Ubiquitin levels increased at 1 d. Autophagosome and p62 accumulated predominantly in neurons at 1 d, with p62 puncta occurring in affected cells. Beclin-1 colocalized with markers of caspase-dependent and caspase-independent apoptosis and necrosis in neurons. In vitro, mouse neonatal cortical neurons treated with rapamycin and chloroquine showed increased autophagosomes, but not autolysosomes, and increased cell death that was attenuated by cyclosporine A. Neonatal HI initially increases autophagy but later impairs autophagosome clearance, coinciding with delayed cortical neuronal death.
Project description:Brain developmental lesions are a devastating consequence of prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE). We recently showed that PAE affects cortical vascular development with major effects on angiogenesis and endothelial cell survival. The underlying molecular mechanisms of these effects remain poorly understood. This study aimed at characterizing the ethanol exposure impact on the autophagic process in brain microvessels in human fetuses with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) and in a PAE mouse model. Our results indicate that PAE induces an increase of autophagic vacuole number in human fetal and neonatal mouse brain cortical microvessels. Subsequently, ex vivo studies using green fluorescent protein (GFP)-LC3 mouse microvessel preparations revealed that ethanol treatment alters autophagy in endothelial cells. Primary cultures of mouse brain microvascular endothelial cells were used to characterize the underlying molecular mechanisms. LC3 and p62 protein levels were significantly increased in endothelial cells treated with 50?mM ethanol. The increase of autophagic vacuole number may be due to excessive autophagosome formation associated with the partial inhibition of the mammalian target of rapamycin pathway upon ethanol exposure. In addition, the progression from autophagosomes to autolysosomes, which was monitored using autophagic flux inhibitors and mRFP-EGFP vector, showed a decrease in the autolysosome number. Besides, a decrease in the Rab7 protein level was observed that may underlie the impairment of autophagosome-lysosome fusion. In addition, our results showed that ethanol-induced cell death is likely to be mediated by decreased mitochondrial integrity and release of apoptosis-inducing factor. Interestingly, incubation of cultured cells with rapamycin prevented ethanol effects on autophagic flux, ethanol-induced cell death and vascular plasticity. Taken together, these results are consistent with autophagy dysregulation in cortical microvessels upon ethanol exposure, which could contribute to the defects in angiogenesis observed in patients with FAS. Moreover, our results suggest that rapamycin represents a potential therapeutic strategy to reduce PAE-related brain developmental disorders.
Project description:Tobacco BY-2 cells undergo autophagy in sucrose-free culture medium, which is the process mostly responsible for intracellular protein degradation under these conditions. Autophagy was inhibited by the vacuolar H(+)-ATPase inhibitors concanamycin A and bafilomycin A1, which caused the accumulation of autophagic bodies in the central vacuoles. Such accumulation did not occur in the presence of the autophagy inhibitor 3-methyladenine, and concanamycin in turn inhibited the accumulation of autolysosomes in the presence of the cysteine protease inhibitor E-64c. Electron microscopy revealed not only that the autophagic bodies were accumulated in the central vacuole, but also that autophagosome-like structures were more frequently observed in the cytoplasm in treatments with concanamycin, suggesting that concanamycin affects the morphology of autophagosomes in addition to raising the pH of the central vacuole. Using BY-2 cells that constitutively express a fusion protein of autophagosome marker protein Atg8 and green fluorescent protein (GFP), we observed the appearance of autophagosomes by fluorescence microscopy, which is a reliable morphological marker of autophagy, and the processing of the fusion protein to GFP, which is a biochemical marker of autophagy. Together, these results suggest the involvement of vacuole type H(+)-ATPase in the maturation step of autophagosomes to autolysosomes in the autophagic process of BY-2 cells. The accumulation of autophagic bodies in the central vacuole by concanamycin is a marker of the occurrence of autophagy; however, it does not necessarily mean that the central vacuole is the site of cytoplasm degradation.
Project description:Cabergoline (CAB), the first-line drug for treatment of prolactinomas, is effective in suppressing prolactin hypersecretion, reducing tumor size, and restoring gonadal function. However, mechanisms for CAB-mediated tumor shrinkage are largely unknown. Here we report a novel cytotoxic mechanism for CAB. CAB induced formation of autophagosome in rat pituitary tumor MMQ and GH3 cells at the early stage through inhibiting mTOR pathway, resulting in higher conversion rates of LC3-I to LC3-II, GFP-LC3 aggregation, and increased autophagosome formation. Interestingly, CAB treatment augmented lysosome acidification and resulted in impaired proteolytic degradation within autolysosomes. This blocked the autophagic flux, leading to the accumulation of p62 aggregation and undigested autolysosomes. Knockdown of ATG7, ATG5, or Becn1, could significantly rescue the CAB-mediated cell death of MMQ cells (p < 0.05). CAB-induced autophagy and blockade of autophagy flux participated in antitumoral action in vivo. In conclusion, our study provides evidence that CAB concomitantly induces autophagy and inhibits the autophagic flux, leading to autophagy-dependent cell death. These findings elucidate novel mechanisms for CAB action.
Project description:Many neurodegenerative disorders are characterized by the aberrant accumulation of aggregate-prone proteins. Alzheimer's disease (AD) is associated with the buildup of ?-amyloid peptides and tau, which aggregate into extracellular plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, respectively. Multiple studies have linked dysfunctional intracellular degradation mechanisms with AD pathogenesis. One such pathway is the autophagy-lysosomal system, which involves the delivery of large protein aggregates/inclusions and organelles to lysosomes through the formation, trafficking, and degradation of double-membrane structures known as autophagosomes. Converging data suggest that promoting autophagic degradation, either by inducing autophagosome formation or enhancing lysosomal digestion, provides viable therapeutic strategies. In this review, we discuss compounds that can augment autophagic clearance and may ameliorate disease-related pathology in cell and mouse models of AD. Canonical autophagy induction is associated with multiple signaling cascades; on the one hand, the best characterized is mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). Accordingly, multiple mTOR-dependent and mTOR-independent drugs that stimulate autophagy have been tested in preclinical models. On the other hand, there is a growing list of drugs that can enhance the later stages of autophagic flux by stabilizing microtubule-mediated trafficking, promoting lysosomal fusion, or bolstering lysosomal enzyme function. Although altering the different stages of autophagy provides many potential targets for AD therapeutic interventions, it is important to consider how autophagy drugs might also disturb the delicate balance between autophagosome formation and lysosomal degradation.
Project description:We have reported that conventional protein kinase Cγ (cPKCγ)-modulated neuron-specific autophagy improved the neurological outcome of mice following ischemic stroke through the Akt-mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway. However, its detailed molecular mechanism remains unclear. In this study, primary cortical neurons from postnatal one-day-old C57BL/6J cPKCγ wild-type (cPKCγ+/+) and knockout (cPKCγ−/−) mice suffering oxygen glucose deprivation/reperfusion (OGD/R) were used to simulate ischemia/reperfusion injury in vitro. A block of autophagic flux was observed in cPKCγ+/+ neurons under OGD/R exposure, characterized by accumulation of p62. Immunofluorescent results showed a decrease in colocalization between LC3 and Atg14 or Stx17 in cPKCγ+/+ neurons when compared with cPKCγ−/− neurons after OGD/R. However, the colocalization between LC3 and Lamp2 was barely decreased, indicating the presence of autolysosomes. The larger lysotracker-positive structures were also significantly increased. These results suggest that cPKCγ-induced inhibition of autophagy occurred at the stages of autophagosome formation, Stx17 anchoring, and the degradation of autolysosomes in particular. In addition, cPKCγ-modulated phosphorylation of mTOR at Ser 2481 was dependent on the site of Ser 2448, which may have blocked autophagic flux. cPKCγ-modulated sequential reactivation of mTOR inhibited autophagic flux in neurons exposed to OGD/R, which may provide endogenous interventional strategies for stroke, especially ischemia/reperfusion injury.
Project description:Chemical modulators of autophagy provide useful pharmacological tools for examination of autophagic processes, and also may lead to new therapeutic agents for diseases in which control of cellular sequestration and degradation capacity are beneficial. We have identified that timosaponin A-III (TAIII), a medicinal saponin reported to exhibit anticancer properties and improve brain function, is a pronounced activator of autophagy. In this work, the salient features and functional role of TAIII-induced autophagy were investigated. In TAIII-treated cells, autophagic flux with increased formation of autophagosomes and conversion into autolysosomes is induced in association with inhibition of mammalian target of rapamycin activity and elevation of cytosolic free calcium. The TAIII-induced autophagy is distinct from conventional induction by rapamycin, exhibiting large autophagic vacuoles that appear to contain significant contents of endosomal membranes and multivesicular bodies. Furthermore, TAIII stimulates biosynthesis of cholesterol, which is incorporated to the autophagic vacuole membranes. The TAIII-induced autophagic vacuoles capture ubiquitinated proteins, and in proteasome-inhibited cells TAIII promotes autophagy of aggregation-prone ubiquitinated proteins. Our studies demonstrate that TAIII induced a distinct form of autophagy, and one of its pharmacological actions is likely to enhance the cellular quality control capacity via autophagic clearance of otherwise accumulated ubiquitinated protein aggregates.
Project description:Damaged or unwanted cellular proteins are degraded by either autophagy or the ubiquitin/proteasome pathway. In <i>Arabidopsis thaliana,</i> sensing of D-glucose is achieved by the heterotrimeric G protein complex and regulator of G-protein signaling 1 (AtRGS1). Here, we showed that starvation increases proteasome-independent AtRGS1 degradation, and it is correlated with increased autophagic flux. RGS1 promoted the production of autophagosomes and autophagic flux; RGS1-yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) was surrounded by vacuolar dye FM4-64 (red fluorescence). RGS1 and autophagosomes co-localized in the root cells of <i>Arabidopsis</i> and BY-2 cells. We demonstrated that the autophagosome marker ATG8a interacts with AtRGS1 and its shorter form with truncation of the seven transmembrane and RGS1 domains <i>in planta</i>. Altogether, our data indicated the correlation of autophagosome formation with degradation and endocytosis of AtRGS1 through ATG8a.
Project description:Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the selective loss of motor neurons. Abnormal protein aggregation and impaired protein degradation are believed to contribute to the pathogenesis of this disease. Our previous studies showed that an autophagic flux defect is involved in motor neuron degeneration in the SOD1(G93A) mouse model of ALS. Histone deacetylase 6 (HDAC6) is a class II deacetylase that promotes autophagy by inducing the fusion of autophagosomes to lysosomes. In the present study, we showed that HDAC6 expression was decreased at the onset of disease and became extremely low at the late stage in ALS mice. Using lentivirus-HDAC6 gene injection, we found that HDAC6 overexpression prolonged the lifespan and delayed the motor neuron degeneration in ALS mice. Moreover, HDAC6 induced the formation of autolysosomes and accelerated the degradation of SOD1 protein aggregates in the motor neurons of ALS mice. Collectively, our results indicate that HDAC6 has neuroprotective effects in an animal model of ALS by improving the autophagic flux in motor neurons, and autophagosome-lysosome fusion might be a therapeutic target for ALS.
Project description:Autophagy functions as a survival mechanism during cellular stress and contributes to resistance against anticancer agents. The selective antitumor and antimetastatic chelator di-2-pyridylketone 4,4-dimethyl-3-thiosemicarbazone (Dp44mT) causes lysosomal membrane permeabilization and cell death. Considering the integral role of lysosomes in autophagy and cell death, it was important to assess the effect of Dp44mT on autophagy to further understand its mechanism of action. Notably, Dp44mT affected autophagy by two mechanisms. First, concurrent with its antiproliferative activity, Dp44mT increased the expression of the classical autophagic marker LC3-II as a result of induced autophagosome synthesis. Second, this effect was supplemented by a reduction in autophagosome degradation as shown by the accumulation of the autophagic substrate and receptor p62. Conversely, the classical iron chelator desferrioxamine induced autophagosome accumulation only by inhibiting autophagosome degradation. The formation of redox-active iron or copper Dp44mT complexes was critical for its dual effect on autophagy. The cytoprotective antioxidant N-acetylcysteine inhibited Dp44mT-induced autophagosome synthesis and p62 accumulation. Importantly, Dp44mT inhibited autophagosome degradation via lysosomal disruption. This effect prevented the fusion of lysosomes with autophagosomes to form autolysosomes, which is crucial for the completion of the autophagic process. The antiproliferative activity of Dp44mT was suppressed by Beclin1 and ATG5 silencing, indicating the role of persistent autophagosome synthesis in Dp44mT-induced cell death. These studies demonstrate that Dp44mT can overcome the prosurvival activity of autophagy in cancer cells by utilizing this process to potentiate cell death.