Autosomal dominant familial neurohypophyseal diabetes insipidus (adFNDI) is a progressive, inherited neurodegenerative disorder that presents as polydipsia and polyuria as a consequence of a loss of secretion of the antidiuretic hormone vasopressin (VP) from posterior pituitary nerve terminals. VP gene mutations cause adFNDI. Rats expressing an adFNDI VP transgene (Cys67stop) show a neuronal pathology characterized by autophagic structures in the cell body. adFNDI has thus been added to the list of protein aggregation diseases, along with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's, which are associated with autophagy, a bulk process that delivers regions of cytosol to lysosomes for degradation. However, the role of autophagy in these diseases is unclear. To address the relationships between mutant protein accumulation, autophagy, cell survival, and cell death, we have developed a novel and tractable in vitro system. We have constructed adenoviral vectors (Ads) that express structural genes encoding either the Cys67stop mutant protein (Ad-VCAT-Cys67stop) or an epitope-tagged wild-type VP precursor (Ad-VCAT). After infection of mouse neuroblastoma Neuro2a cells, Ad-VCAT encoded material enters neurite processes and accumulates in terminals, while the Cys67stop protein is confined to enlarged vesicles in the cell body. Similar to the intracellular derangements seen in the Cys67stop rats, these structures are of ER origin, and colocalize with markers of autophagy. Neither Ad-VCAT-Cys67stop nor Ad-VCAT expression affected cell viability. However, inhibition of autophagy or lysosomal protein degradation, while having no effect on Ad-VCAT-expressing cells, significantly increased apoptotic cell death following Ad-VCAT-Cys67stop expression. These data suggest that activation of autophagy by the stress of the expression of an adFNDI mutant protein is a prosurvival mechanism.
Mutations in the human gene encoding the antidiuretic hormone vasopressin (VP) cause autosomal dominant familial neurohypophyseal diabetes insipidus (adFNDI), a rare inherited disorder that presents as polydipsia and polyuria as a consequence of a loss of secretion of VP from posterior pituitary nerve terminals. Work from our laboratories has shown that adFNDI, like other neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's, is associated with autophagy. We have recently shown that the activation of autophagy in mouse neuroblastoma Neuro2a cells after adenoviral vector-mediated delivery of an adFNDI mutant VP transgene (Cys67stop) is a cell survival mechanism; its inhibition induces apoptosis. We now show that expression of Cys67stop sensitizes Neuro2a cells to the lethal effects of dopamine. This mode of cell death exhibits features typically associated with classical apoptosis. Yet inhibition of autophagy reversed these effects and rescued cell viability. We propose that autophagy-mediated cell death is a "two-hit" process: Following the cellular stress of the accumulation of a misfolded mutant protein, autophagy is prosurvival. However, a second insult triggers an autophagy-dependent apoptosis.
The 16 kDa prolactin fragment arises from partial proteolysis of the native 23 kDa prolactin pituitary hormone. The mammary gland has been involved in this processing, although it has not been clarified whether it occurs in stroma or epithelial cells or extracellularly. Also, the processing enzyme has not been defined yet. Here we show that the incubation medium of stroma-deprived mammary acini from lactating rat contains an enzymatic activity able to cleave, in a temperature- and time-dependent fashion, the 23 kDa prolactin to generate a 16 kDa prolactin detectable under reducing conditions. This cleavage was not impaired in the presence of hirudin, a thrombin inhibitor, but strongly weakened in the presence of pepstatin A, a cathepsin D inhibitor. Cathepsin D immuno-depletion abolished the capability of acini-conditioned medium to cleave the 23 kDa prolactin. Brefeldin A treatment of acini, a condition that largely abolished the apical secretion of milk proteins, did not impair the secretion of the enzymatically active single chain of cathepsin D. These results show that mature cathepsin D from endosomes or lysosomes is released, likely at the baso-lateral site of mammary epithelial cells, and that a cathepsin D-dependent activity is required to effect, under physiological conditions, the cleavage of 23 kDa prolactin in the extracellular medium. This is the first report demonstrating that cathepsin D can perform a limited proteolysis of a substrate at physiological pH outside the cell.
A short period of hypoxia reduces the cytotoxicity produced by a subsequent prolonged hypoxia in isolated hepatocytes. This phenomenon, termed hypoxic preconditioning, is mediated by the activation of adenosine A2A-receptor and is associated with the attenuation of cellular acidosis and Na+ overload normally occurring during hypoxia. Bafilomycin, an inhibitor of the vacuolar H+/ATPase, reverts the latter effects and abrogates the preconditioning-induced cytoprotection. Here we provide evidence that the acquisition of preconditioning-induced cytoprotection requires the fusion with plasma membrane and exocytosis of endosomal-lysosomal organelles. Poisons of the vesicular traffic, such as wortmannin and 3-methyladenine, which inhibit phosphatydilinositol 3-kinase, or cytochalasin D, which disassembles the actin cytoskeleton, prevented lysosome exocytosis and also abolished the preconditioning-associated protection from acidosis and necrosis provoked by hypoxia. Preconditioning was associated with the phosphatydilinositol 3-kinase-dependent increase of cytosolic [Ca2+]. Chelation of free cytosolic Ca2+ in preconditioned cells prevented lysosome exocytosis and the acquisition of cytoprotection. We conclude that lysosome-plasma membrane fusion is the mechanism through which hypoxic preconditioning allows hepatocytes to preserve the intracellular pH and survive hypoxic stress. This process is under the control of phosphatydilinositol 3-kinase and requires the integrity of the cytoskeleton and the rise of intracellular free calcium ions.
Lysosomes and lysosome-related organelles constitute a system of acid compartments that interconnect the inside of the cell with the extracellular environment via endocytosis, phagocytosis and exocytosis. In recent decades it has been recognized that lysosomes are not just wastebaskets for disposal of unused cellular constituents, but that they are involved in several cellular processes such as post-translational maturation of proteins, degradation of receptors and extracellular release of active enzymes. By complementing the autophagic process, lysosomes actively contribute to the maintenance of cellular homeostasis. Proteolysis by lysosomal cathepsins has been shown to mediate the death signal of cytotoxic drugs and cytokines, as well as the activation of pro-survival factors. Secreted lysosomal cathepsins have been shown to degrade protein components of the extracellular matrix, thus contributing actively to its re-modelling in physiological and pathological processes. The malfunction of lysosomes can, therefore, impact on cell behaviour and fate. Here we review the role of lysosomal hydrolases in several aspects of the malignant phenotype including loss of cell growth control, altered regulation of cell death, acquisition of chemoresistance and of metastatic potential. Based on these observations, the lysosome is proposed as a potential target organelle for the chemotherapy of tumours. We will also present some recent data concerning the technologies for delivering chemotherapeutic drugs to the endosomal-lysosomal compartment and the strategies to improve their efficacy.
In several 'in vitro' models of apoptosis, lysosomal proteolysis has been shown to play an active role in mediating the death signal by cytokines or antiblastic drugs. Depending on the experimental cell model and the cytotoxic stimulus applied, an increased expression and the cytosolic translocation of either cathepsin D or B have been reported in apoptotic cells. We have analysed the involvement of these lysosomal proteases in a canonical apoptotic cell model, namely L929 fibroblasts, in which apoptosis was induced by cytotoxic agents acting through different mechanisms: (i) the cytokine TNFalpha, which triggers the cell suicide via interaction with its membrane receptor, and (ii) the topoisomerase II-inhibitor etoposide (VP16), which directly causes DNA damage. In both cases the activity of cathepsins B and D increased in apoptosing cultures. CA074-Me, a specific inhibitor of cathepsin B, and Leupeptin, a broad inhibitor of serine and cysteine proteases (among which is cathepsin B), did not exert any protection from TNFalpha. In contrast, pre-loading the cells with pepstatin A, a specific inhibitor of cathepsin D, protected L929 cells from TNFalpha cytotoxicity by more than 50%. However, no protection was observed if pepstatin A was added concomitantly with the cytokine. Inhibition of either cathepsin B or D did not impede apoptosis induced by etoposide. Lysosomal integrity was preserved and cathepsin D remained still confined in vesicular structures in apoptotic cells treated with either TNFalpha or etoposide. It follows that proteolysis by cathepsin D is likely to represent an early event in the death pathway triggered by TNFalpha and occurs within the endosomal-lysosomal compartment.
Neuroblastoma is the most common type of cancer in infants. In children this tumor is particularly aggressive; despite various new therapeutic approaches, it is associated with poor prognosis. Given the importance of endosomal-lysosomal proteolysis in cellular metabolism, we hypothesized that inhibition of lysosomal protease would impact negatively on neuroblastoma cell survival. Treatment with E-64 or CA074Me (2 specific inhibitors of cathepsin B) or with pepstatin A (a specific inhibitor of cathepsin D) was cytotoxic for 2 neuroblastoma cell lines having different degrees of malignancy. Cell death was associated with condensation and fragmentation of chromatin and externalization of plasma membrane phosphatidylserine, 2 hallmarks of apoptosis. Concomitant inhibition of the caspase cascade protected neuroblastoma cells from cathepsin inhibitor-induced cytotoxicity. These data indicate that prolonged inhibition of the lysosomal proteolytic pathway is incompatible with cell survival, leading to apoptosis of neuroblastoma cells, and that the cathepsin-mediated and caspase-mediated proteolytic systems are connected and cooperate in the regulation of such an event. Since modern antitumor chemotherapy is aimed at restoring the normal rate of apoptosis in neoplastic tissues, the demonstration that endosomal-lysosomal cathepsins are involved in this process may constitute a basis for novel strategies that include cathepsin inhibitors in the therapeutic regimen.
The expression of different protein kinase C (PKC) isoenzymes has been shown to vary with proliferation rates, differentiation or apoptosis in normal colon crypts. In addition, the activity of some PKC isoenzymes appears to be reduced in colorectal cancer. The aim of the present work was to determine whether modulation of PKC expression would affect the susceptibility of a p53-defective colon carcinoma cell line to different apoptotic treatments. HT-29 cells exhibited sensitivity to paclitaxel (Taxol) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha) in a dose- and time-dependent manner but were relatively resistant to etoposide. Inhibition of PKC activity augmented the susceptibility of HT-29 cells to apoptosis, and phorbol ester induction of PKC reduced such susceptibility. Transfected HT-29(PKC) cells, hyper-expressing the beta1 isoform of PKC, were less sensitive to TNFalpha and paclitaxel than the normal counterpart. The present data 1) indicate that the expression of PKC influences the susceptibility of HT-29 colon cancer cells to apoptotic drugs apparently regardless of their mechanism of action, and 2) suggest paclitaxel as a potential candidate for the treatment of colon cancer, possibly in association with inhibitors of PKC (alpha and beta) at doses not cytotoxic per se.
Basophils and mast cells contain a peculiar class of inflammatory granules that discharge their content upon antigen-mediated crosslinking of IgE-membrane receptors. The pathways for granule biogenesis and exocytosis in these cells are still largely obscure. In this study we employed the rat basophilic leukemia (RBL)/mast cell line to verify the hypothesis that inflammatory granules share common bioactive molecules and functional properties with lysosomes. We demonstrate that inflammatory granules, as identified by the monoclonal 5G10 antibody (which recognises an integral membrane protein) or by Toluidine Blue staining, have an intralumenal acidic pH, possess lysosomal enzymes and are accessible by fluid-phase and membrane endocytosis markers. In addition, we studied the targeting, subcellular localisation and regulated secretion of the lysosomal aspartic protease cathepsin D (CD) as affected by IgE receptor stimulation in order to obtain information on the pathways for granule biogenesis and exocytosis. Stimulation with DNP-BSA of specific IgE-primed RBL cells led to a prompt release of processed forms of CD, along with other mature lysosomal hydrolases. This release could be prevented by addition of EGTA, indicating that it was dependent on extracellular calcium influx. Antigen stimulation also induced exocytosis of immature CD forms accumulated by ammonium chloride, suggesting the existence of an intermediate station in the pathway for granule biogenesis still sensitive to regulated exocytosis. The targeting of molecules to secretory granules may occur via either a mannose-6-phosphate-dependent or mannose-6-phosphate-independent pathway. We conclude that endosomes and lysosomes in basophils/mast cells can act as regulated secretory granules or actually identify with them.
The expression, processing, and intracellular localization of cathepsin D (CD), an endosomal-lysosomal protease involved in malignancy, were studied in rat embryo fibroblasts transformed with an active mutant of c-Ha-ras oncogene. The pattern of the processed molecular forms of CD, comprising two single-chain mature forms of 45 and 43 kDa and two double-chain mature forms of 34 + 9 kDa and 30 + 14 kDa, expressed by the parental cell line was similar to that found in normal rat liver cells. By contrast, in the ras-transfected counterpart this pattern was profoundly altered in that the 45 kDa species was much less represented and the 30 + 14 kDa species virtually absent. In both untransformed and ras-transformed cells the conversion of proCD into mature forms was not inhibited by ammonium chloride, which is known to increase the intravacuolar pH of post-Golgi compartments. Yet, this drug induced the accumulation of the 43 and 45 kDa molecular forms of mature CD in ras-transformed cells and of the 34 kDa molecule in untransformed cells. As compared to controls, in ras-transformed fibroblasts vacuolar compartments containing CD were reduced in number and mostly located toward the periphery of the cell. This contrasted with the perinuclear distribution of CD-positive granules in untransformed cells. Serum deprivation did not affect the growth, nor the intra- and extracellular accumulation of CD activity in ras-transformed cultures, while it blocked the growth and strongly stimulated the accumulation of CD in the medium in cultures of control fibroblasts. Altogether these data are indicative for a crucial role of ras GTPase in the regulation of the transport between post-Golgi organelles.