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See detailGuidelines for the use and interpretation of assays for monitoring autophagy.
Klionsky, Daniel J.; Abdalla, Fabio C.; Abeliovich, Hagai et al

in Autophagy (2012), 8(4), 445-544

In 2008 we published the first set of guidelines for standardizing research in autophagy. Since then, research on this topic has continued to accelerate, and many new scientists have entered the field ... [more ▼]

In 2008 we published the first set of guidelines for standardizing research in autophagy. Since then, research on this topic has continued to accelerate, and many new scientists have entered the field. Our knowledge base and relevant new technologies have also been expanding. Accordingly, it is important to update these guidelines for monitoring autophagy in different organisms. Various reviews have described the range of assays that have been used for this purpose. Nevertheless, there continues to be confusion regarding acceptable methods to measure autophagy, especially in multicellular eukaryotes. A key point that needs to be emphasized is that there is a difference between measurements that monitor the numbers or volume of autophagic elements (e.g., autophagosomes or autolysosomes) at any stage of the autophagic process vs. those that measure flux through the autophagy pathway (i.e., the complete process); thus, a block in macroautophagy that results in autophagosome accumulation needs to be differentiated from stimuli that result in increased autophagic activity, defined as increased autophagy induction coupled with increased delivery to, and degradation within, lysosomes (in most higher eukaryotes and some protists such as Dictyostelium) or the vacuole (in plants and fungi). In other words, it is especially important that investigators new to the field understand that the appearance of more autophagosomes does not necessarily equate with more autophagy. In fact, in many cases, autophagosomes accumulate because of a block in trafficking to lysosomes without a concomitant change in autophagosome biogenesis, whereas an increase in autolysosomes may reflect a reduction in degradative activity. Here, we present a set of guidelines for the selection and interpretation of methods for use by investigators who aim to examine macroautophagy and related processes, as well as for reviewers who need to provide realistic and reasonable critiques of papers that are focused on these processes. These guidelines are not meant to be a formulaic set of rules, because the appropriate assays depend in part on the question being asked and the system being used. In addition, we emphasize that no individual assay is guaranteed to be the most appropriate one in every situation, and we strongly recommend the use of multiple assays to monitor autophagy. In these guidelines, we consider these various methods of assessing autophagy and what information can, or cannot, be obtained from them. Finally, by discussing the merits and limits of particular autophagy assays, we hope to encourage technical innovation in the field. [less ▲]

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See detailGenome-wide association study reveals genetic risk underlying Parkinson's disease.
Simon-Sanchez, Javier; Schulte, Claudia; Bras, Jose M. et al

in Nature genetics (2009), 41(12), 1308-12

We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in 1,713 individuals of European ancestry with Parkinson's disease (PD) and 3,978 controls. After replication in 3,361 cases and 4,573 controls, we ... [more ▼]

We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in 1,713 individuals of European ancestry with Parkinson's disease (PD) and 3,978 controls. After replication in 3,361 cases and 4,573 controls, we observed two strong association signals, one in the gene encoding alpha-synuclein (SNCA; rs2736990, OR = 1.23, P = 2.24 x 10(-16)) and another at the MAPT locus (rs393152, OR = 0.77, P = 1.95 x 10(-16)). We exchanged data with colleagues performing a GWAS in Japanese PD cases. Association to PD at SNCA was replicated in the Japanese GWAS, confirming this as a major risk locus across populations. We replicated the effect of a new locus detected in the Japanese cohort (PARK16, rs823128, OR = 0.66, P = 7.29 x 10(-8)) and provide supporting evidence that common variation around LRRK2 modulates risk for PD (rs1491923, OR = 1.14, P = 1.55 x 10(-5)). These data demonstrate an unequivocal role for common genetic variants in the etiology of typical PD and suggest population-specific genetic heterogeneity in this disease. [less ▲]

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See detailIdentification and functional characterization of a novel R621C mutation in the synphilin-1 gene in Parkinson's disease.
Marx, Frank P.; Holzmann, Carsten; Strauss, Karsten M. et al

in Human molecular genetics (2003), 12(11), 1223-31

Synphilin-1 is linked to the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease (PD) based on its identification as an alpha-synuclein (PARK1) and parkin (PARK2) interacting protein. Moreover, synphilin-1 is a component ... [more ▼]

Synphilin-1 is linked to the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease (PD) based on its identification as an alpha-synuclein (PARK1) and parkin (PARK2) interacting protein. Moreover, synphilin-1 is a component of Lewy bodies (LB) in brains of sporadic PD patients. Therefore, we performed a detailed mutation analysis of the synphilin-1 gene in 328 German familial and sporadic PD patients. In two apparently sporadic PD patients we deciphered a novel C to T transition in position 1861 of the coding sequence leading to an amino acid substitution from arginine to cysteine in position 621 (R621C). This mutation was absent in a total of 702 chromosomes of healthy German controls. To define a possible role of mutant synphilin-1 in the pathogenesis of PD we performed functional analyses in SH-SY5Y cells. We found synphilin-1 capable of producing cytoplasmic inclusions in transfected cells. Moreover we observed a significantly reduced number of inclusions in cells expressing C621 synphilin-1 compared with cells expressing wild-type (wt) synphilin-1, when subjected to proteasomal inhibition. C621 synphilin-1 transfected cells were more susceptible to staurosporine-induced cell death than cells expressing wt synphilin-1. Our findings argue in favour of a causative role of the R621C mutation in the synphilin-1 gene in PD and suggest that the formation of intracellular inclusions may be beneficial to cells and that a mutation in synphilin-1 that reduces this ability may sensitize neurons to cellular stress. [less ▲]

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