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Annu Rev Nutr. 1987;7:539-64.

Intracellular protein catabolism and its control during nutrient deprivation and supply.


The continuous turnover of intracellular protein and other macromolecules is a basic cellular process that serves, among other functions, to regulate cytoplasmic content and provide amino acids for ongoing oxidative and biosynthetic reactions during nutrient deprivation. The intensity of breakdown and pattern of regulation, though, vary widely among cells. Rat hepatocytes, for example, exhibit high absolute rates of proteolysis and regulatory effects that diminish during starvation, while corresponding responses in skeletal and cardiac muscle move in the opposite direction. It is also becoming apparent that effects of insulin and other acute regulatory agents on muscle breakdown are limited to nonmyofibrillar components. The latter may be sequestered and degraded within autophagic vacuoles, whereas myofibrillar proteins require an initial attack by calcium-dependent proteases in the cytosol. By contrast, most if not all of the breakdown of resident (long-lived) proteins as well as RNA in the hepatocyte can be explained by lysosomal mechanisms. The uptake of cytoplasmic components by lysosomes can be divided into two major categories, macroautophagy and micro- or basal autophagy. The first is induced by amino acid or insulin/serum deprivation. In the hepatocyte, amino acids alone can regulate this process almost instantaneously over two thirds of the full range of proteolysis, 4.5% to 1.5% per hour. Glucagon, cyclic AMP, and beta-agonists also stimulate macroautophagy in hepatocytes but have opposite effects in skeletal and cardiac myocytes. Basal autophagy differs from the macro type in that the cytoplasmic "bite" is smaller and sequestration is not acutely regulated. It is, however, adaptively decreased during starvation in parallel with absolute rates of basal turnover. Since endoplasmic reticulum comprises an appreciable fraction of the vacuolar content, volume sequestration would be compatible with the known heterogeneity of individual protein turnover if some proteins (or altered proteins) selectively bind to membranes. The amino acid control of macroautophagy in the hepatocyte is accomplished by a small group of direct inhibitors (Leu, Tyr/Phe, Gln, Pro, Met, Trp, and His) and the permissive effect of alanine whereas only leucine is involved in myocytes and adipocytes. Of unusual interest is the fact that the inhibitory amino acid group alone evokes responses in perfused livers that are identical to those of a complete plasma mixture at 0.5 and 4 times normal plasma levels but loses effectiveness almost completely at normal concentrations.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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