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      The lysosome as a cellular centre for signalling, metabolism and quality control

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      Nature Cell Biology

      Springer Nature

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          Suppression of basal autophagy in neural cells causes neurodegenerative disease in mice.

          Autophagy is an intracellular bulk degradation process through which a portion of the cytoplasm is delivered to lysosomes to be degraded. Although the primary role of autophagy in many organisms is in adaptation to starvation, autophagy is also thought to be important for normal turnover of cytoplasmic contents, particularly in quiescent cells such as neurons. Autophagy may have a protective role against the development of a number of neurodegenerative diseases. Here we report that loss of autophagy causes neurodegeneration even in the absence of any disease-associated mutant proteins. Mice deficient for Atg5 (autophagy-related 5) specifically in neural cells develop progressive deficits in motor function that are accompanied by the accumulation of cytoplasmic inclusion bodies in neurons. In Atg5-/- cells, diffuse, abnormal intracellular proteins accumulate, and then form aggregates and inclusions. These results suggest that the continuous clearance of diffuse cytosolic proteins through basal autophagy is important for preventing the accumulation of abnormal proteins, which can disrupt neural function and ultimately lead to neurodegeneration.
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            Loss of autophagy in the central nervous system causes neurodegeneration in mice.

            Protein quality-control, especially the removal of proteins with aberrant structures, has an important role in maintaining the homeostasis of non-dividing neural cells. In addition to the ubiquitin-proteasome system, emerging evidence points to the importance of autophagy--the bulk protein degradation pathway involved in starvation-induced and constitutive protein turnover--in the protein quality-control process. However, little is known about the precise roles of autophagy in neurons. Here we report that loss of Atg7 (autophagy-related 7), a gene essential for autophagy, leads to neurodegeneration. We found that mice lacking Atg7 specifically in the central nervous system showed behavioural defects, including abnormal limb-clasping reflexes and a reduction in coordinated movement, and died within 28 weeks of birth. Atg7 deficiency caused massive neuronal loss in the cerebral and cerebellar cortices. Notably, polyubiquitinated proteins accumulated in autophagy-deficient neurons as inclusion bodies, which increased in size and number with ageing. There was, however, no obvious alteration in proteasome function. Our results indicate that autophagy is essential for the survival of neural cells, and that impairment of autophagy is implicated in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disorders involving ubiquitin-containing inclusion bodies.
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              TFEB links autophagy to lysosomal biogenesis.

              Autophagy is a cellular catabolic process that relies on the cooperation of autophagosomes and lysosomes. During starvation, the cell expands both compartments to enhance degradation processes. We found that starvation activates a transcriptional program that controls major steps of the autophagic pathway, including autophagosome formation, autophagosome-lysosome fusion, and substrate degradation. The transcription factor EB (TFEB), a master gene for lysosomal biogenesis, coordinated this program by driving expression of autophagy and lysosomal genes. Nuclear localization and activity of TFEB were regulated by serine phosphorylation mediated by the extracellular signal-regulated kinase 2, whose activity was tuned by the levels of extracellular nutrients. Thus, a mitogen-activated protein kinase-dependent mechanism regulates autophagy by controlling the biogenesis and partnership of two distinct cellular organelles.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Cell Biology
                Nat Cell Biol
                Springer Nature
                1465-7392
                1476-4679
                January 2 2019
                Article
                10.1038/s41556-018-0244-7
                © 2019

                http://www.springer.com/tdm

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