miR-376b controls starvation and mTOR inhibition-related autophagy by targeting ATG4C and BECN1


Macroautophagy (autophagy) is the major intracellular degradation pathway for long-lived proteins and organelles. It helps the cell to survive a spectrum of stressful conditions including starvation, growth factor deprivation and misfolded protein accumulation. Moreover, abnormalities of autophagy play a role in major health problems including cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. Yet, mechanisms controlling autophagic activity are not fully understood. Here, we describe hsa-miR-376b (miR-376b) as a new microRNA (miRNA) regulating autophagy. We showed that miR-376b expression attenuated starvation- and rapamycin-induced autophagy in MCF-7 and Huh-7 cells. We discovered autophagy proteins ATG4C and BECN1 (Beclin 1) as cellular targets of miR-376b. Indeed, upon miRNA overexpression, both mRNA and protein levels of ATG4C and BECN1 were decreased. miR-376b target sequences were present in the 3’ UTR of ATG4C and BECN1 mRNAs and introduction of mutations abolished their miR-376b responsiveness. Antagomir-mediated inactivation of the endogenous miR-376b led to an increase in ATG4C and BECN1 levels. Therefore, miR-376b controls autophagy by directly regulating intracellular levels of two key autophagy proteins, ATG4C and BECN1.

Ayse Kumsal Tekirdag Kosar, PhD
Ayse Kumsal Tekirdag Kosar, PhD
Molecular Cell Biology Scientist

My research interests include autophagy regulation by microRNAs, antisense oligonucleotide biology and Parkinson’s Disease therapeutics