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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 detailMutant Parkin impairs mitochondrial function and morphology in human fibroblasts.
Grünewald, Anne UL; Voges, Lisa; Rakovic, Aleksandar et al

in PloS one (2010), 5(9), 12962

BACKGROUND: Mutations in Parkin are the most common cause of autosomal recessive Parkinson disease (PD). The mitochondrially localized E3 ubiquitin-protein ligase Parkin has been reported to be involved ... [more ▼]

BACKGROUND: Mutations in Parkin are the most common cause of autosomal recessive Parkinson disease (PD). The mitochondrially localized E3 ubiquitin-protein ligase Parkin has been reported to be involved in respiratory chain function and mitochondrial dynamics. More recent publications also described a link between Parkin and mitophagy. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: In this study, we investigated the impact of Parkin mutations on mitochondrial function and morphology in a human cellular model. Fibroblasts were obtained from three members of an Italian PD family with two mutations in Parkin (homozygous c.1072delT, homozygous delEx7, compound-heterozygous c.1072delT/delEx7), as well as from two relatives without mutations. Furthermore, three unrelated compound-heterozygous patients (delEx3-4/duplEx7-12, delEx4/c.924C>T and delEx1/c.924C>T) and three unrelated age-matched controls were included. Fibroblasts were cultured under basal or paraquat-induced oxidative stress conditions. ATP synthesis rates and cellular levels were detected luminometrically. Activities of complexes I-IV and citrate synthase were measured spectrophotometrically in mitochondrial preparations or cell lysates. The mitochondrial membrane potential was measured with 5,5',6,6'-tetrachloro-1,1',3,3'-tetraethylbenzimidazolylcarbocyanine iodide. Oxidative stress levels were investigated with the OxyBlot technique. The mitochondrial network was investigated immunocytochemically and the degree of branching was determined with image processing methods. We observed a decrease in the production and overall concentration of ATP coinciding with increased mitochondrial mass in Parkin-mutant fibroblasts. After an oxidative insult, the membrane potential decreased in patient cells but not in controls. We further determined higher levels of oxidized proteins in the mutants both under basal and stress conditions. The degree of mitochondrial network branching was comparable in mutants and controls under basal conditions and decreased to a similar extent under paraquat-induced stress. CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that Parkin mutations cause abnormal mitochondrial function and morphology in non-neuronal human cells. [less ▲]

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