Role of GAPDH in glucose starvation induced autophagy

Role of GAPDH in glucose starvation induced autophagy

Eukaryotes initiate autophagy to cope with the lack of external nutrients, which requires the activation of the nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+)-dependent deacetylase Sirtuin 1 (Sirt1). However, the mechanisms underlying the starvation-induced Sirt1 activation for autophagy initiation remain unclear.

Researchers demonstrate in the journal Molecular Cell that glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH), a conventional glycolytic enzyme, is a critical mediator of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK)-driven Sirt1 activation.

Under glucose starvation, but not amino acid starvation, cytoplasmic GAPDH is phosphorylated on Ser122 by activated AMPK. This causes GAPDH to redistribute into the nucleus.

Inside the nucleus, GAPDH interacts directly with Sirt1, displacing Sirt1’s repressor and causing Sirt1 to become activated. Preventing this shift of GAPDH abolishes Sirt1 activation and autophagy, while enhancing it, through overexpression of nuclear-localized GAPDH, increases Sirt1 activation and autophagy.

GAPDH is thus a pivotal and central regulator of autophagy under glucose deficiency, undergoing AMPK-dependent phosphorylation and nuclear translocation to activate Sirt1 deacetylase activity.