Autophagy is induced and modulated by cholesterol depletion through transcription of autophagy-related genes and attenuation of flux

Keren E. Shapira, Guy Shapira, Eran Schmukler, Metsada Pasmanik-Chor, Noam Shomron, Ronit Pinkas-Kramarski, Yoav I. Henis, Marcelo Ehrlich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Perturbations to cellular homeostasis, including reduction of the cholesterol level, induce autophagy, a self-digestion process of cellular constituents through an autophagosomal–lysosomal pathway. In accord with its function as a membrane organizer and metabolic sentinel, the cellular response to cholesterol depletion comprises multiple phenomena, including the activation of transcriptional responses, accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), and activation of stress-related signaling pathways. However, the molecular mechanisms by which cholesterol depletion regulates autophagy and the putative involvement of transcriptional responses, ROS and/or stress-related signaling in autophagy regulation in this biological context are not fully understood. Here, we find that cholesterol depletion regulates autophagy at three different levels. First, employing RNA-seq, we show that cholesterol depletion increases the expression of autophagy-related genes independent of ROS or JNK activity. Second, analysis of LC3 lipidation and intracellular localization, and of p62 levels and degradation kinetics, reveals that cholesterol depletion mediates autophagy induction while interfering with autophagic flux. Of note, only the latter depends on ROS accumulation and JNK activity. In view of the common use of cholesterol-reducing drugs as therapeutic agents, our findings have important implications for multiple cellular settings in which autophagy plays a prominent role.

Original languageEnglish
Article number320
JournalCell Death Discovery
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021

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