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Mol Cell. 2013 Apr 11;50(1):16-28. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2013.01.024. Epub 2013 Feb 21.

ZKSCAN3 is a master transcriptional repressor of autophagy.

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Department of Cancer Biology, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Autophagy constitutes a major cell-protective mechanism that eliminates damaged components and maintains energy homeostasis via recycling nutrients under normal/stressed conditions. Although the core components of autophagy have been well studied, regulation of autophagy at the transcriptional level is poorly understood. Herein, we establish ZKSCAN3, a zinc finger family DNA-binding protein, as a transcriptional repressor of autophagy. Silencing of ZKSCAN3 induced autophagy and increased lysosome biogenesis. Importantly, we show that ZKSCAN3 represses transcription of a large gene set (>60) integral to, or regulatory for, autophagy and lysosome biogenesis/function and that a subset of these genes, including Map1lC3b and Wipi2, represent direct targets. Interestingly, ZKSCAN3 and TFEB are oppositely regulated by starvation and in turn oppositely regulate lysosomal biogenesis and autophagy, suggesting that they act in conjunction. Altogether, our study uncovers an autophagy master switch regulating the expression of a transcriptional network of genes integral to autophagy and lysosome biogenesis/function.

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