In 2008 we published the first set of guidelines for standardizing research in autophagy. Since then, research on this topic has continued to accelerate, and many new scientists have entered the field. Our knowledge base and relevant new technologies have also been expanding. Accordingly, it is important to update these guidelines for monitoring autophagy in different organisms. Various reviews have described the range of assays that have been used for this purpose. Nevertheless, there continues to be confusion regarding acceptable methods to measure autophagy, especially in multicellular eukaryotes. A key point that needs to be emphasized is that there is a difference between measurements that monitor the numbers or volume of autophagic elements (e.g., autophagosomes or autolysosomes) at any stage of the autophagic process vs. those that measure flux through the autophagy pathway (i.e., the complete process); thus, a block in macroautophagy that results in autophagosome accumulation needs to be differentiated from stimuli that result in increased autophagic activity, defined as increased autophagy induction coupled with increased delivery to, and degradation within, lysosomes (in most higher eukaryotes and some protists such as Dictyostelium) or the vacuole (in plants and fungi). In other words, it is especially important that investigators new to the field understand that the appearance of more autophagosomes does not necessarily equate with more autophagy. In fact, in many cases, autophagosomes accumulate because of a block in trafficking to lysosomes without a concomitant change in autophagosome biogenesis, whereas an increase in autolysosomes may reflect a reduction in degradative activity. Here, we present a set of guidelines for the selection and interpretation of methods for use by investigators who aim to examine macroautophagy and related processes, as well as for reviewers who need to provide realistic and reasonable critiques of papers that are focused on these processes. These guidelines are not meant to be a formulaic set of rules, because the appropriate assays depend in part on the question being asked and the system being used. In addition, we emphasize that no individual assay is guaranteed to be the most appropriate one in every situation, and we strongly recommend the use of multiple assays to monitor autophagy. In these guidelines, we consider these various methods of assessing autophagy and what information can, or cannot, be obtained from them. Finally, by discussing the merits and limits of particular autophagy assays, we hope to encourage technical innovation in the field
In this review I summarize interrelations between bioenergetic processes and such programmed death phenomena as cell suicide (apoptosis and necrosis) and mitochondrial suicide (mitoptosis). The following conclusions are made. (I) ATP and rather often mitochondrial hyperpolarization (i.e. an increase in membrane potential, delta psi) are required for certain steps of apoptosis and necrosis. (II) Apoptosis, even if it is accompanied by delta psi and [ATP] increases at its early stage, finally results in a delta psi collapse and ATP decrease. (III) Moderate (about three-fold) lowering of [ATP] for short and long periods of time induces apoptosis and necrosis, respectively. In some types of apoptosis and necrosis, the cell death is mediated by a delta psi-dependent overproduction of ROS by the initial (Complex I) and the middle (Complex III) spans of the respiratory chain. ROS initiate mitoptosis which is postulated to rid the intracellular population of mitochondria from those that are ROS overproducing. Massive mitoptosis can result in cell death due to release to cytosol of the cell death proteins normally hidden in the mitochondrial intermembrane space.
Although programmed cell death (PCD) is extensively studied in multicellular organisms, in recent years it has been shown that a unicellular organism, yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, also possesses death program(s). In particular, we have found that a high doses of yeast pheromone is a natural stimulus inducing PCD. Here, we show that the death cascades triggered by pheromone and by a drug amiodarone are very similar. We focused on the role of mitochondria during the pheromone/amiodarone-induced PCD. For the first time, a functional chain of the mitochondria-related events required for a particular case of yeast PCD has been revealed: an enhancement of mitochondrial respiration and of its energy coupling, a strong increase of mitochondrial membrane potential, both events triggered by the rise of cytoplasmic [Ca2+], a burst in generation of reactive oxygen species in center o of the respiratory chain complex III, mitochondrial thread-grain transition, and cytochrome c release from mitochondria. A novel mitochondrial protein required for thread-grain transition is identified.
Ageing is widely believed to be a non-adaptive process that results from a decline in the force of natural selection. However, recent studies in Saccharomyces cerevisiae are consistent with the existence of a programme of altruistic ageing and death. We suggest that the similarities between the molecular pathways that regulate ageing in yeast, worms, flies and mice, together with evidence that is consistent with programmed death in salmon and other organisms, raise the possibility that programmed ageing or death can also occur in higher eukaryotes.
It is hypothesized that mitochondrial uncoupling proteins operate as carriers of fatty acid peroxide anions. This is assumed to result in electrophoretic extrusion of such anions from the inner to the outer leaflet of the inner mitochondrial membrane, being driven by membrane potential (mitochondrial interior negative). In this way, the inner leaflet is ridded of fatty acid peroxides that otherwise can form very aggressive oxidants damaging mitochondrial DNA, aconitase, and other mitochondrial matrix-localized components of vital importance. The steady-state concentration the fatty acid peroxides is known to be low. This explains why UCP2, 3, 4, and 5 are present in small amounts usually insufficient to make a large contribution to the H+ conductance of the mitochondrial membrane.
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