Oxidative stress (OS) stimulates autophagy in different cellular systems, but it remains controversial if this rule can be generalized. We have analyzed the effect of chronic OS induced by the parkinsonian toxin paraquat (PQ) on autophagy in astrocytoma cells and primary astrocytes, which represent the first cellular target of neurotoxins in the brain. PQ decreased the basal levels of LC3-II and LC3-positive vesicles, and its colocalization with lysosomal markers, both in the absence and presence of chloroquine. This was paralleled by increased number and size of SQSTM1/p62 aggregates. Downregulation of autophagy was also observed in cells chronically exposed to hydrogen peroxide or nonlethal concentrations of PQ, and it was associated with a reduced astrocyte capability to protect dopaminergic cells from OS in co-cultures. Surprisingly, PQ treatment led to inhibition of MTOR, activation of MAPK8/JNK1 and MAPK1/ERK2-MAPK3/ERK1 and upregulation of BECN1/Beclin 1 expression, all signals typically correlating with induction of autophagy. Reduction of OS by NMDPEF, a specific NQO2 inhibitor, but not by N-acetylcysteine, abrogated the inhibitory effect of PQ and restored autophagic flux. Activation of NQO2 by PQ or menadione and genetic manipulation of its expression confirmed the role of this enzyme in the inhibitory action of PQ on autophagy. PQ did not induce NFE2L2/NRF2, but when it was co-administered with NMDPEF NFE2L2 activity was enhanced in a SQSTM1-independent fashion. Thus, a prolonged OS in astrocytes inhibits LC3 lipidation and impairs autophagosome formation and autophagic flux, in spite of concomitant activation of several pro-autophagic signals. These findings outline an unanticipated neuroprotective role of astrocyte autophagy and identify in NQO2 a novel pharmacological target for its positive modulation.
The keratinocyte-derived A431 Squamous Cell Carcinoma cells express the p53R273H mutant, which has been reported to inhibit apoptosis and autophagy. Here, we show that the crude extract of turmeric (Curcuma longa), similarly to its bioactive component Curcumin, could induce both apoptosis and autophagy in A431 cells, and these effects were concomitant with degradation of p53. Turmeric and curcumin also stimulated the activity of mTOR, which notoriously promotes cell growth and acts negatively on basal autophagy. Rapamycin-mediated inhibition of mTOR synergized with turmeric and curcumin in causing p53 degradation, increased the production of autophagosomes and exacerbated cell toxicity leading to cell necrosis. Small-interference mediated silencing of the autophagy proteins BECLIN 1 or ATG7 abrogated the induction of autophagy and largely rescued p53 stability in Turmeric-treated or Curcumin-treated cells, indicating that macroautophagy was mainly responsible for mutant p53 degradation. These data uncover a novel mechanism of turmeric and curcumin toxicity in chemoresistant cancer cells bearing mutant p53.
Glucose represents an important source of energy for the cells. Proliferating cancer cells consume elevated quantity of glucose, which is converted into lactate regardless of the presence of oxygen. This phenomenon, known as the Warburg effect, has been proven to be useful for imaging metabolically active tumours in cancer patients by (18)F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET). Glucose is internalised in the cells by glucose transporters (GLUTs) belonging to the GLUT family. GLUT1 (SLC2A1) is the most prevalent isoform in more aggressive and less differentiated thyroid cancer histotypes. In a previous work, we found that loss of expression of PTEN was associated with increased expression of GLUT1 on the plasma membrane (PM) and probability of detecting thyroid incidentalomas by FDG-PET. Herein, we investigated the molecular pathways that govern the expression of GLUT1 on the PM and the glucose uptake in WRO (expressing WT PTEN) and FTC133 (PTEN null) follicular thyroid cancer cells cultured under glucose-depleted conditions. The membrane expression of GLUT1 was enhanced in glucose-deprived cells. Through genetic manipulations of PTEN expression, we could demonstrate that the lack of this oncosuppressor has a dominant effect on the membrane expression of GLUT1 and glucose uptake. We conclude that loss of function of PTEN increases the probability of cancer detection by FDG-PET or other glucose-based imaging diagnosis.
Proliferating cancer cells oxidize glucose through the glycolytic pathway. Since this metabolism is less profitable in terms of ATP production, cancer cells consume large quantity of glucose, and those that experience insufficient blood supply become glucose-addicted. We have analyzed the response to glucose depletion in WRO and FTC133 follicular thyroid cancer cells, which differ in the expression of two key regulators of the glucose metabolism. WRO cells, which express wild type p53 and PTEN, showed a higher rate of cell proliferation and were much less sensitive to glucose-depletion than FTC133 cells, which are PTEN null and express mutant p53. Glucose depletion slowed-down the autophagy flux in FTC133 cells, not in WRO cells. In a wound-healing assay, WRO cells were shown to migrate faster than FTC133 cells. Glucose depletion slowed down the cell migration rate, and these effects were more evident in FTC133 cells. Genetic silencing of either wild-type PTEN or p53 in WRO cells resulted in increased uptake of glucose, whereas the ectopic expression of PTEN in FTC133 cells resulted in diminished glucose uptake. In conclusion, compared to WRO, FTC133 cells were higher glucose up-taker and consumer. These data do not support the general contention that cancer cells lacking PTEN or expressing the mutant p53R273H are more aggressive and prone to better face glucose depletion. We propose that concurrent PTEN deficiency and mutant p53 leads to a glucose-addiction state that renders the cancer cell more sensitive to glucose restriction. The present observation substantiates the view that glucose-restriction may be an adjuvant strategy to combat these tumours.
Autophagy is dysregulated in cancer and might be involved in ovarian carcinogenesis. BECLIN-1, a protein that interacts with either BCL-2 or PI3k class III, plays a critical role in the regulation of both autophagy and cell death. Induction of autophagy is associated with the presence of vacuoles characteristically labelled with the protein LC3. We have studied the biological and clinical significance of BECLIN 1 and LC3 in ovary tumours of different histological types. The positive expression of BECLIN 1 was well correlated with the presence of LC3-positive autophagic vacuoles and was inversely correlated with the expression of BCL-2. The latter inhibits the autophagy function of BECLIN 1. We found that type I tumours, which are less aggressive than type II, were more frequently expressing high level of BECLIN 1. Of note, tumours of histologic grade III expressed low level of BECLIN 1. Consistently, high level of expression of BECLIN 1 and LC3 in tumours is well correlated with the overall survival of the patients. The present data are compatible with the hypotheses that a low level of autophagy favours cancer progression and that ovary cancer with upregulated autophagy has a less aggressive behaviour and is more responsive to chemotherapy.
Autophagy is a process of cytosol-to-lysosome vesicle trafficking of cellular constituents for degradation and recycling of their building blocks. Autophagy becomes very important for cell viability under different stress conditions, in particular under amino acid limitation. In this report we demonstrate that single amino acid arginine deprivation triggers profound prosurvival autophagic response in cultured human ovarian cancer SKOV3 cells. In fact, a significant drop in viability of arginine-starved SKOV3 cells was observed when autophagy was inhibited by either coadministration of chloroquine or transcriptional silencing of the essential autophagy protein BECLIN 1. Enzymatic arginine deprivation is a novel anticancer therapy undergoing clinical trials. This therapy is considered nontoxic and selective, as it allows controlling the growth of malignant tumours deficient in arginine biosynthesis. We propose that arginine deprivation-based combinational treatments that include autophagy inhibitors (e.g., chloroquine) may produce a stronger anticancer effect as a second line therapy for a subset of chemoresistant ovarian cancers.
Autophagy is a lysosomal-driven catabolic process that contributes to the preservation of cell homeostasis through the regular elimination of cellular damaged, aged, and redundant molecules and organelles. Autophagy plays dual opposite roles in cancer: on one hand it prevents carcinogenesis; on the other hand it confers an advantage to cancer cells to survive under prohibitive conditions. Autophagy has been implicated in ovarian cancer aggressiveness and in ovarian cancer cell chemoresistance and dormancy. Small noncoding microRNAs (miRNAs) regulate gene expression at posttranscriptional level, thus playing an important role in many aspects of cell pathophysiology, including cancerogenesis and cancer progression. Certain miRNAs have recently emerged as important epigenetic modulators of autophagy in cancer cells. The mRNA of several autophagy-related genes contains, in fact, the target sequence for miRNAs belonging to different families, with either oncosuppressive or oncogenic activities. MiRNA profiling studies have identified some miRNAs aberrantly expressed in ovarian cancer tissues that can impact autophagy. In addition, plasma and stroma cell-derived miRNAs in tumour-bearing patients can regulate the expression of relevant autophagy genes in cancer cells. The present review focuses on the potential implications of miRNAs regulating autophagy in ovarian cancer pathogenesis and progression.
Thai traditional medicine employs a wide range of indigenous herbs in the forms of tincture or tea for the cure of skin and systemic inflammatory diseases. The protection by Thai plants extracts against UVB DNA damage and cytotoxicity was investigated in human keratinocytes. Petroleum ether, dichloromethane and ethanol extracts were prepared from 15 Thai herb species, and the total phenolic and flavonoid contents, the antioxidant and UV-absorbing properties were assessed by standard procedures. Cytoprotective effects were evaluated on the basis of cell survival, caspase-3 activity and pyrimidine dimers determination. High total phenolic and flavonoid contents were found in the ethanol and dichloromethane fractions. Dichloromethane extract of turmeric was shown to possess the highest antioxidant activity. The maximum UV absorptions were found in the ethanol extract of turmeric and in the dichloromethane extract of ginger. These extracts stimulated the synthesis of Thioredoxin 1, an antioxidant protein, and could protect human HaCaT keratinocytes from UV-induced DNA damage and cytotoxicity. The present data support the utilization of turmeric and ginger extracts in anti-UV cosmetic pharmaceuticals.
Thyroid cancer is the most common cancer of the endocrine system and is responsible for the majority of deaths from endocrine malignancies. Although a large proportion of thyroid cancers belong to well differentiated histologic subtypes, which in general show a good prognosis after surgery and radioiodine ablation, the treatment of radio-resistant papillary-type, of undifferentiated anaplastic, and of medullary-type thyroid cancers remains unsatisfactory. Autophagy is a vesicular process for the lysosomal degradation of protein aggregates and of damaged or redundant organelles. Autophagy plays an important role in cell homeostasis, and there is evidence that this process is dysregulated in cancer cells. Recent in vitro preclinical studies have indicated that autophagy is involved in the cytotoxic response to chemotherapeutics in thyroid cancer cells. Indeed, several oncogenes and oncosuppressor genes implicated in thyroid carcinogenesis also play a role in the regulation of autophagy. In addition, some epigenetic modulators involved in thyroid carcinogenesis also influence autophagy. In this review, we highlight the genetic and epigenetic factors that mechanistically link thyroid carcinogenesis and autophagy, thus substantiating the rationale for an autophagy-targeted therapy of aggressive and radio-chemo-resistant thyroid cancers.
CD (cathepsin D) is a ubiquitous lysosomal hydrolase involved in a variety of pathophysiological functions, including protein turnover, activation of pro-hormones, cell death and embryo development. CD-mediated proteolysis plays a pivotal role in tissue and organ homoeostasis. Altered expression and compartmentalization of CD have been observed in diseased muscle fibres. Whether CD is actively involved in muscle development, homoeostasis and dystrophy remains to be demonstrated. Zebrafish (Danio rerio) is emerging as a valuable 'in vivo' vertebrate model for muscular degeneration and congenital myopathies. In this work, we report on the perturbance of the somitic musculature development in zebrafish larvae caused by MPO (morpholino)-mediated silencing of CD in oocytes at the time of fertilization. Restoring CD expression, using an MPO-non-matching mutated mRNA, partially rescued the normal phenotype, confirming the indispensable role of CD in the correct development and integrity of the somitic musculature. This is the first report showing a congenital myopathy caused by CD deficiency in a vertebrate experimental animal model.