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Autophagy. 2019 Mar 23:1-16. doi: 10.1080/15548627.2019.1596496. [Epub ahead of print]

Actin filaments are dispensable for bulk autophagy in plants.

Zheng X1,2, Wu M1,2, Li X1,2, Cao J1,2, Li J1,2, Wang J1,2, Huang S2, Liu Y1,2, Wang Y1,2.

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a MOE Key Laboratory of Bioinformatics, Tsinghua-Peking Joint Center for Life Sciences, School of Life Sciences , Tsinghua University , Beijing , China.
b Center for Plant Biology, School of Life Sciences , Tsinghua University , Beijing , China.


Actin filament, also known as microfilament, is one of two major cytoskeletal elements in plants and plays important roles in various biological processes. Like in animal cells, actin filaments have been thought to participate in autophagy in plants. However, surprisingly, in this study we found that actin filaments are dispensable for the occurrence of autophagy in plants. Disruption of actin filaments by short term treatment with actin polymerization inhibitors, cytochalasin D and latrunculin B, or transient overexpression of Profilin 3 in Nicotiana benthamiana had no effect on basal autophagy as well as the upregulation of nocturnal autophagy and salt stress-induced autophagy. Furthermore, anti-microfilament drug treatment affected neither basal nor salt stress-induced autophagy in Arabidopsis. In addition, prolonged perturbation of actin filaments by silencing Actin7 or 24-h treatment with microfilament-disrupting agents in N. benthamiana caused endoplasmic reticulum (ER) disorganization and subsequent degradation via autophagy involving ATG2, 3, 5, 6 and 7. Our findings reveal that, unlike mammalian cells, actin filaments are unnecessary for bulk autophagy in plants. Abbreviations: ATG: autophagy-related; CD: cytochalasin D; Cvt pathway: cytoplasm to vacuole targeting pathway; DMSO: dimethyl sulfoxide; ER: endoplasmic reticulum; LatB: latrunculin B; Nb: Nicotiana benthamiana; PAS: phagophore assembly site; PRF3: Profilin 3; RER: rough ER; SER: smooth ER; TEM: transmission electron microscopy; TRV: Tobacco rattle virus; VIGS: virus-induced gene silencing; wpi: weeks post-agroinfiltration.


; Actin filaments; autophagy; cytoskeleton; endoplasmic reticulum; plants

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