Autophagy evolved in unicellular eukaryotes as a means for surviving nutrient stress. During the course of evolution, as multicellular organisms developed specialized cell types and complex intracellular signalling networks, autophagy has been summoned to serve additional cellular functions. Numerous recent studies indicate that apart from its pro-survival role under nutrient limitation, autophagy also participates in cell death. However, the precise role of this catabolic process in dying cells is not fully understood. Although in certain situations autophagy has a protective function, in other types of cell death it actually contributes to cellular destruction. Simple model organisms ranging from the unicellular Saccharomyces cerevisiae to the soil amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum and the metazoans Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster provide clearly defined cell death paradigms that can be used to dissect the involvement of autophagy in cell death, at the molecular level. In this review, we survey current research in simple organisms, linking autophagy to cell death and discuss the complex interplay between autophagy, cell survival and cell death. Autophagy is a self-degradation process that is essential for survival, differentiation, development, and homeostasis. There are at least three forms of autophagy -chaperonemediated autophagy, microautophagy, and macroautophagy -that differ with respect to their mechanisms, physiological functions and cargo specificity. In the best-studied form of autophagy, macroautophagy (herein referred to as autophagy), parts of the cytoplasm, long-lived proteins and intracellular organelles are sequestered within cytoplasmic double-membrane vesicles called autophagosomes or autophagic vacuoles. These characteristic vacuoles are finally delivered to lysosomes for bulk degradation (Figure 1).Autophagy was discovered in mammalian cells and has been extensively investigated in yeast. 1 These studies have identified many genes encoding proteins involved in autophagy (ATG proteins). 2 ATG proteins participate in the induction of autophagy, the formation, expansion and maturation of autophagosomes, and in the retrieval of autophagic proteins from mature autophagosomes. 3 Fusion processes occur through the t-and v-SNARE complexes, and other molecules, such as the Rab GTPases and components of the vacuolar protein-sorting (VPS) complex. Several protein kinases regulate autophagy, the best characterized being the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), which negatively regulates the pathway. 4 Downstream of TOR kinase, numerous proteins encoded by ATG genes (more than 20 genes in yeast) are essential for the execution of autophagy. 5 The autophagic process is evolutionarily conserved and most yeast ATG genes have homologues in higher organisms (Table 1).Autophagy has also been linked to cell death pathways. Indeed, excess cytoplasmic vacuolation is the main feature of type II programmed cell death or autophagic cell death. Both protective and destructive contributions of autop...
Ageing is driven by the inexorable and stochastic accumulation of damage in biomolecules vital for proper cellular function. Although this process is fundamentally haphazard and uncontrollable, senescent decline and ageing is broadly influenced by genetic and extrinsic factors. Numerous gene mutations and treatments have been shown to extend the lifespan of diverse organisms ranging from the unicellular Saccharomyces cerevisiae to primates. It is becoming increasingly apparent that most such interventions ultimately interface with cellular stress response mechanisms, suggesting that longevity is intimately related to the ability of the organism to effectively cope with both intrinsic and extrinsic stress. Here, we survey the molecular mechanisms that link ageing to main stress response pathways, and mediate age-related changes in the effectiveness of the response to stress. We also discuss how each pathway contributes to modulate the ageing process. A better understanding of the dynamics and reciprocal interplay between stress responses and ageing is critical for the development of novel therapeutic strategies that exploit endogenous stress combat pathways against age-associated pathologies.
Heat-shock factor 1 (HSF1) orchestrates the heat-shock response in eukaryotes. Although this pathway has been evolved to help cells adapt in the presence of challenging conditions, it is co-opted in cancer to support malignancy. However, the mechanisms that regulate HSF1 and thus cellular stress response are poorly understood. Here we show that the ubiquitin ligase FBXW7 α interacts with HSF1 through a conserved motif phosphorylated by GSK3β and ERK1. FBXW7α ubiquitylates HSF1 and loss of FBXW7α results in impaired degradation of nuclear HSF1 and defective heat-shock response attenuation. FBXW7α is either mutated or transcriptionally downregulated in melanoma and HSF1 nuclear stabilization correlates with increased metastatic potential and disease progression. FBXW7α deficiency and subsequent HSF1 accumulation activates an invasion-supportive transcriptional program and enhances the metastatic potential of human melanoma cells. These findings identify a post-translational mechanism of regulation of the HSF1 transcriptional program both in the presence of exogenous stress and in cancer.
Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition, characterized by catastrophic collapse of thermoregulation and extreme hyperthermia. In recent years, intensification of heat waves has caused a surge of heat-stroke fatalities. The mechanisms underlying heat-related pathology are poorly understood. Here we show that heat stroke triggers pervasive necrotic cell death and neurodegeneration in Caenorhabditis elegans. Preconditioning of animals at a mildly elevated temperature strongly protects from heat-induced necrosis. The heat-shock transcription factor HSF-1 and the small heat-shock protein HSP-16.1 mediate cytoprotection by preconditioning. HSP-16.1 localizes to the Golgi, where it functions with the Ca(2+)- and Mn(2+)-transporting ATPase PMR-1 to maintain Ca(2+) homeostasis under heat stroke. Preconditioning also suppresses cell death inflicted by diverse insults, and protects mammalian neurons from heat cytotoxicity. These findings reveal an evolutionarily conserved mechanism that defends against diverse necrotic stimuli, and may be relevant to heat stroke and other pathological conditions involving necrosis in humans.
Protein homeostasis (proteostasis) is one of the nodal points that need to be preserved to retain physiologic cellular/organismal balance. The ubiquitin‐proteasome system (UPS) is responsible for the removal of both normal and damaged proteins, with the proteasome being the downstream effector. The proteasome is the major cellular protease with progressive impairment of function during aging and senescence. Despite the documented age‐retarding properties of proteasome activation in various cellular models, simultaneous enhancement of the 20S core proteasome content, assembly, and function have never been reported in any multicellular organism. Consequently, the possible effects of the core proteasome modulation on organismal life span are elusive. In this study, we have achieved activation of the 20S proteasome at organismal level. We demonstrate enhancement of proteasome levels, assembly, and activity in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, resulting in life span extension and increased resistance to stress. We also provide evidence that the observed life span extension is dependent on the transcriptional activity of Dauer formation abnormal/Forkhead box class O (DAF‐16/FOXO), skinhead‐1 (SKN‐1), and heat shock factor‐1 (HSF‐1) factors through regulation of downstream longevity genes. We further show that the reported beneficial effects are not ubiquitous but they are dependent on the genetic context Finally, we provide evidence that proteasome core activation might be a potential strategy to minimize protein homeostasis deficiencies underlying aggregation‐related diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease (AD) or Huntington's disease (HD). In summary, this is the first report demonstrating that 20S core proteasome up‐regulation in terms of both content and activity is feasible in a multicellular eukaryotic organism and that in turn this modulation promotes extension of organismal health span and life span.—Chondrogianni, N., Georgila, K., Kourtis, N., Tavernarakis, N., Gonos, E. S. 20S proteasome activation promotes life span extension and resistance to proteotoxicity in Caenorhabditis elegans. FASEB J. 29, 611‐622 (2015). http://www.fasebj.org
Cellular transformation is accompanied by extensive re-wiring of many biological processes leading to augmented levels of distinct types of cellular stress, including proteotoxic stress. Cancer cells critically depend on stress-relief pathways for their survival. However, the mechanisms underlying the transcriptional initiation and maintenance of the oncogenic stress response remain elusive. Here, we show that the expression of heat shock transcription factor 1 (HSF1) and the downstream mediators of the heat shock response is transcriptionally upregulated in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL). Hsf1 ablation suppresses the growth of human T-ALL and eradicates leukemia in mouse models of T-ALL, while sparing normal hematopoiesis. HSF1 drives a compact transcriptional program and among the direct HSF1 targets, specific chaperones and co-chaperones mediate its critical role in T-ALL. Notably, we demonstrate that the central T-ALL oncogene NOTCH1 hijacks the cellular stress response machinery by inducing the expression of HSF1 and its downstream effectors. The NOTCH1 signaling status controls the levels of chaperone/co-chaperone complexes and predicts the response of T-ALL patient samples to HSP90 inhibition. Our data demonstrate an integral crosstalk between mediators of oncogene and non-oncogene addiction and reveal critical nodes of the heat shock response pathway that can be targeted therapeutically.
Parkinson's disease (PD) is characterized by the progressive loss of dopaminergic neurons, which arises from a yet elusive concurrence between genetic and environmental factors. The protein α-synuclein (αSyn), the principle toxic effector in PD, has been shown to interfere with neuronal Ca2+ fluxes, arguing for an involvement of deregulated Ca2+ homeostasis in this neuronal demise. Here, we identify the Golgi-resident Ca2+/Mn2+ ATPase PMR1 (plasma membrane-related Ca2+-ATPase 1) as a phylogenetically conserved mediator of αSyn-driven changes in Ca2+ homeostasis and cytotoxicity. Expression of αSyn in yeast resulted in elevated cytosolic Ca2+ levels and increased cell death, both of which could be inhibited by deletion of PMR1. Accordingly, absence of PMR1 prevented αSyn-induced loss of dopaminergic neurons in nematodes and flies. In addition, αSyn failed to compromise locomotion and survival of flies when PMR1 was absent. In conclusion, the αSyn-driven rise of cytosolic Ca2+ levels is pivotal for its cytotoxicity and requires PMR1.
Author contributions M.G., I.A. and L.B. conceptualized and designed the study. M.G., I.A. and L.B. prepared the manuscript. M.G. performed, analyzed and interpreted the majority of the experiments describing the mouse modeling. D.O. and L.B. designed, performed and interpreted the majority of the proteomics experiments. I.D., Y.G., L.Z.-R. and A.T. performed all of the computational analysis. N.K. generated mouse strains. Y.D., K.C. and M.M. provided technical assistance with animal models. A.S., L.F. and M.P.W. performed the mass spectrometry. S.T.Y. and K.M.K. performed and interpreted the tissue immunofluorescence and the influenza experiment. C.P. analyzed the mouse pathology. C.B. provided the Spop antibody and shared experimental protocols. A.N.T., K.M.K., C.P. and C.B. provided intellectual input.
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