Impairment of Atg5-dependent autophagic flux promotes paraquat- and MPP+-induced apoptosis but not rotenone or 6-hydroxydopamine toxicity

Aracely Garcia-Garcia, Annandurai Anandhan, Michaela Burns, Han Chen, You Zhou, Rodrigo Franco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Controversial reports on the role of autophagy as a survival or cell death mechanism in dopaminergic cell death induced by parkinsonian toxins exist. We investigated the alterations in autophagic flux and the role of autophagy protein 5 (Atg5)-dependent autophagy in dopaminergic cell death induced by parkinsonian toxins. Dopaminergic cell death induced by the mitochondrial complex I inhibitors 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium (MPP. +) and rotenone, the pesticide paraquat, and the dopamine analog 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) was paralleled by increased autophagosome accumulation. However, when compared with basal autophagy levels using chloroquine, autophagosome accumulation was a result of impaired autophagic flux. Only 6-OHDA induced an increase in autophagosome formation. Overexpression of a dominant negative form of Atg5 increased paraquat- and MPP. +-induced cell death. Stimulation of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR)-dependent signaling protected against cell death induced by paraquat, whereas MPP. +-induced toxicity was enhanced by wortmannin, a phosphoinositide 3-kinase class III inhibitor, rapamycin, and trehalose, an mTOR-independent autophagy activator. Modulation of autophagy by either pharmacological or genetic approaches had no effect on rotenone or 6-OHDA toxicity. Cell death induced by parkinsonian neurotoxins was inhibited by the pan caspase inhibitor (Z-VAD), but only caspase-3 inhibition was able to decrease MPP. +-induced cell death. Finally, inhibition of the lysosomal hydrolases, cathepsins, increased the toxicity by paraquat and MPP. +, supporting a protective role of Atg5-dependent autophagy and lysosomes degradation pathways on dopaminegic cell death. These results demonstrate that in dopaminergic cells, Atg5-dependent autophagy acts as a protective mechanism during apoptotic cell death induced by paraquat and MPP. + but not during rotenone or 6-OHDA toxicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)166-182
Number of pages17
JournalToxicological Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • 6-hydroxydopamine
  • Apoptosis
  • Atg5
  • Autophagy
  • Cathepsins
  • MPP
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Paraquat
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Rotenone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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