Dissecting the dynamic turnover of GFP-LC3 in the autolysosome

Hong Min Ni, Abigail Bockus, Ann L. Wozniak, Kellyann Jones, Steven Weinman, Xiao-Ming Yin, Wen Xing Ding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

192 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Determination of autophagic flux is essential to assess and differentiate between the induction or suppression of autophagy. Western blot analysis for free GFP fragments resulting from the degradation of GFP-LC3 within the autolysosome has been proposed as one of the autophagic flux assays. However, the exact dynamics of GFP-LC3 during the autophagy process are not clear. Moreover, the characterization of this assay in mammalian cells is limited. Here we found that lysosomal acidity is an important regulating factor for the step-wise degradation of GFP-LC3, in which the free GFP fragments are first generated but accumulate only when the lysosomal acidity is moderate, such as during rapamycin treatment. When the lysosomal acidity is high, such as during starvation in Earle's balanced salt solution (EBSS ), the GFP fragments are further degraded and thus do not accumulate. Much to our surprise, we found that the level of free GFP fragments increased in the presence of several late stage autophagy inhibitors, such as chloroquine or E64D plus pepstatin A. Furthermore, the amount of free GFP fragments depends on the concentrations of these inhibitors. Unsaturating concentrations of chloroquine or bafilomycin A1 increased the level of free GFP fragments while saturating concentrations did not. Data from the present study demonstrate that GFP-LC3 is degraded in a step-wise fashion in the autolysosome, in which the LC3 portion of the fusion protein appears to be more rapidly degraded than GFP. However, the amount of free GFP fragments does not necessarily correlate with autophagic flux if the lysosomal enzyme activity and pH are changed. Therefore, caution must be used when conducting the GFP-LC3 cleavage assay as a determinant of autophagic flux. In order to accurately assess autophagy, it is more appropriate to assess GFP-LC3 cleavage in the presence or absence of saturating or unsaturating concentrations of chloroquine or bafilomycin A1 together with other autophagy markers, such as levels of p62 and endogenous LC3-II .

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-204
Number of pages17
JournalAutophagy
Volume7
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2011

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Autophagy
Chloroquine
Sirolimus
Starvation
Salts
Western Blotting
Enzymes
Proteins
bafilomycin A1

Keywords

  • Autophagic flux
  • Autophagy
  • Chloroquine
  • GFP-LC3
  • Lysosome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology

Cite this

Ni, H. M., Bockus, A., Wozniak, A. L., Jones, K., Weinman, S., Yin, X-M., & Ding, W. X. (2011). Dissecting the dynamic turnover of GFP-LC3 in the autolysosome. Autophagy, 7(2), 188-204. https://doi.org/10.4161/auto.7.2.14181

Dissecting the dynamic turnover of GFP-LC3 in the autolysosome. / Ni, Hong Min; Bockus, Abigail; Wozniak, Ann L.; Jones, Kellyann; Weinman, Steven; Yin, Xiao-Ming; Ding, Wen Xing.

In: Autophagy, Vol. 7, No. 2, 02.2011, p. 188-204.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Ni, HM, Bockus, A, Wozniak, AL, Jones, K, Weinman, S, Yin, X-M & Ding, WX 2011, 'Dissecting the dynamic turnover of GFP-LC3 in the autolysosome', Autophagy, vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 188-204. https://doi.org/10.4161/auto.7.2.14181
Ni HM, Bockus A, Wozniak AL, Jones K, Weinman S, Yin X-M et al. Dissecting the dynamic turnover of GFP-LC3 in the autolysosome. Autophagy. 2011 Feb;7(2):188-204. https://doi.org/10.4161/auto.7.2.14181
Ni, Hong Min ; Bockus, Abigail ; Wozniak, Ann L. ; Jones, Kellyann ; Weinman, Steven ; Yin, Xiao-Ming ; Ding, Wen Xing. / Dissecting the dynamic turnover of GFP-LC3 in the autolysosome. In: Autophagy. 2011 ; Vol. 7, No. 2. pp. 188-204.
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