P73 regulates autophagy and hepatocellular lipid metabolism through a transcriptional activation of the ATG5 gene

Z. He, H. Liu, M. Agostini, S. Yousefi, A. Perren, M. P. Tschan, T. W. Mak, G. Melino, H. U. Simon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


p73, a member of the p53 tumor suppressor family, is involved in neurogenesis, sensory pathways, immunity, inflammation, and tumorigenesis. How p73 is able to participate in such a broad spectrum of different biological processes is still largely unknown. Here, we report a novel role of p73 in regulating lipid metabolism by direct transactivation of the promoter of autophagy-related protein 5 (ATG5), a gene whose product is required for autophagosome formation. Following nutrient deprivation, the livers of p73-deficient mice demonstrate a massive accumulation of lipid droplets, together with a low level of autophagy, suggesting that triglyceride hydrolysis into fatty acids is blocked owing to deficient autophagy (macrolipophagy). Compared with wild-type mice, mice functionally deficient in all the p73 isoforms exhibit decreased ATG5 expression and lower levels of autophagy in multiple organs. We further show that the TAp73α is the critical p73 isoform responsible for inducing ATG5 expression in a p53-independent manner and demonstrate that ATG5 gene transfer can correct autophagy and macrolipophagy defects in p73-deficient hepatocytes. These data strongly suggest that the p73-ATG5 axis represents a novel, key pathway for regulating lipid metabolism through autophagy. The identification of p73 as a major regulator of autophagy suggests that it may have an important role in preventing or delaying disease and aging by maintaining a homeostatic control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1415-1424
Number of pages10
JournalCell Death and Differentiation
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013


  • ATG5
  • autophagy
  • lipid droplets
  • lipophagy
  • liver
  • metabolism
  • p73
  • starvation
  • transcription

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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