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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 detailReduced basal autophagy and impaired mitochondrial dynamics due to loss of Parkinson's disease-associated protein DJ-1.
Krebiehl, Guido; Ruckerbauer, Sabine; Burbulla, Lena F. et al

in PloS one (2010), 5(2), 9367

BACKGROUND: Mitochondrial dysfunction and degradation takes a central role in current paradigms of neurodegeneration in Parkinson's disease (PD). Loss of DJ-1 function is a rare cause of familial PD ... [more ▼]

BACKGROUND: Mitochondrial dysfunction and degradation takes a central role in current paradigms of neurodegeneration in Parkinson's disease (PD). Loss of DJ-1 function is a rare cause of familial PD. Although a critical role of DJ-1 in oxidative stress response and mitochondrial function has been recognized, the effects on mitochondrial dynamics and downstream consequences remain to be determined. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Using DJ-1 loss of function cellular models from knockout (KO) mice and human carriers of the E64D mutation in the DJ-1 gene we define a novel role of DJ-1 in the integrity of both cellular organelles, mitochondria and lysosomes. We show that loss of DJ-1 caused impaired mitochondrial respiration, increased intramitochondrial reactive oxygen species, reduced mitochondrial membrane potential and characteristic alterations of mitochondrial shape as shown by quantitative morphology. Importantly, ultrastructural imaging and subsequent detailed lysosomal activity analyses revealed reduced basal autophagic degradation and the accumulation of defective mitochondria in DJ-1 KO cells, that was linked with decreased levels of phospho-activated ERK2. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: We show that loss of DJ-1 leads to impaired autophagy and accumulation of dysfunctional mitochondria that under physiological conditions would be compensated via lysosomal clearance. Our study provides evidence for a critical role of DJ-1 in mitochondrial homeostasis by connecting basal autophagy and mitochondrial integrity in Parkinson's disease. [less ▲]

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