Abstract 174: The BH3-Only Protein BNIP3 Induces Mitochondrial Clearance via Multiple Pathways
Autophagy plays an important role in cellular quality control and is responsible for removing protein aggregates and dysfunctional organelles. BNIP3 is an atypical BH3-only protein which is known to cause mitochondrial dysfunction and cell death in the myocardium. Interestingly, BNIP3 can also protect against cell death by promoting removal of dysfunctional mitochondria via autophagy (mitophagy). We have previously reported that BNIP3 is a potent inducer of mitophagy in cardiac myocytes and that BNIP3 contains an LC3 Interacting Region (LIR) that binds to LC3 on the autophagosome, tethering the mitochondrion to the autophagosome for engulfment. However, the molecular mechanism(s) underlying BNIP3-mediated mitophagy are still unclear. In this study, we discovered that BNIP3 can mediate mitochondrial clearance in cells even in the absence of a functional autophagy pathway. We found that overexpression of BNIP3 led to significant clearance of mitochondria in both wild type (WT) and autophagy deficient Atg5-/- MEFs. BNIP3 caused an increase in LC3II levels in WT MEFs, indicating increased formation of autophagosomes. In contrast, LC3II was undetectable in Atg5-/- MEFs. Furthermore, we found that BNIP3-mediated clearance in WT and Atg5-/- MEFs did not require the presence of Parkin, an E3 ubiquitin ligase which plays a critical role in clearing dysfunctional mitochondria in cells. Also, overexpression of Parkin did not enhance BNIP3-mediated mitochondrial clearance. When investigating activation of alternative cellular degradation pathways, we found that BNIP3 induced activation of the endosomal-lysosomal pathway in both WT and Atg5-/- MEFs. Mutating the LC3 binding site in BNIP3 did not interfere with the activation of the endosomal pathway and clearance of mitochondria in Atg5-/- MEFs. Thus, these findings suggest that BNIP3 can promote clearance of mitochondria via multiple pathways in cells. The role of autophagy in removing mitochondria is already well established and we are currently exploring the roles of the endosomal and alternative autophagy pathways in BNIP3-mediated mitochondrial clearance in myocytes.
Author Disclosures: E.R. Gonzalez: None. B. Hammerling: None. R. Hanna: None. D.A. Kubli: None. Å.B. Gustafsson: None.
- © 2015 by American Heart Association, Inc.