Autophagy pathways activated in response to PDT contribute to cell resistance against ROS damage
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences. Pharmacy
Journal of cellular and molecular medicine
, p. 1402-1414
University of Antwerp
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) concurrently instigate apoptosis and autophagy pathways, but the link between these processes remains unclear. Because cytotoxic ROS formation is exploited in anticancer therapy, such as in photodynamic therapy (PDT), a better understanding of the complex interplay between autophagy and apoptosis is urgently required. Previously, we reported that ROS generated by PDT with an endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-associated sensitizer leads to loss of ER-Ca2+ homeostasis, ER stress and apoptosis. Here we show that PDT prompted Akt-mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) pathway down-regulation and stimulated macroautophagy (MA) in cancer and normal cells. Overexpression of the antioxidant enzyme glutathione peroxidase-4 reversed mTOR down-regulation and blocked MA progression and apoptosis. Attenuating MA using Atg5 knockdown or 3-methyladenine, reduced clearance of oxidatively damaged proteins and increased apoptosis, thus revealing a cytoprotective role of MA in PDT. Paradoxically, genetic loss of MA improved clearance of oxidized proteins and reduced photokilling. We found that up-regulation of chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA) in unstressed Atg5−/− cells compensated for MA loss and increased cellular resistance to PDT. CMA-deficient cells were significantly sensitized to photokilling but were protected against the ER stressor thapsigargin. These results disclose a stress-specific recruitment of autophagy pathways with cytoprotective function and unravel CMA as the dominant defence mechanism against PDT.