The autophagic process occurs in human bone metastasis and implicates molecular mechanisms differently affected by Rab5a in the early and late stages

Paola Maroni, Paola Bendinelli, Massimo Resnati, Emanuela Matteucci, Enrico Milan, Maria Alfonsina Desiderio

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Autophagy favours metastatic growth through fuelling energy and nutrients and resistance to anoikis, typical of disseminated-tumour cells. The autophagic process, mediated by a unique organelle, the autophagosome, which fuses with lysosomes, is divided into three steps. Several stages, especially early omegasome formation and isolation-membrane initiation, remain controversial; molecular mechanisms involve the small-GTPase Rab5a, which regulates vesicle traffic for autophagosome formation. We examined Rab5a involvement in the function of key members of ubiquitin-conjugation systems, Atg7 and LC3-lipidated, interacting with the scaffold-protein p62. Immunohistochemistry of Rab5a was performed in human specimens of bone metastasis and pair-matched breast carcinoma; the autophagic-molecular mechanisms affected by Rab5a were evaluated in human 1833 bone metastatic cells, derived from breast-carcinoma MDA-MB231 cells. To clarify the role of Rab5a, 1833 cells were transfected transiently with Rab5a-dominant negative, and/or stably with the short-hairpin RNA Atg7, were exposed to two inhibitors of autolysosome function, and LC3II and p62 expression was measured. We showed basal autophagy in bone-metastatic cells and the pivotal role of Rab5a together with Beclin 1 between the early stages, elongation of isolation membrane/closed autophagosome mediated by Atg7, and the late-degradative stages. This regulatory network might occur in bone-metastasis and in high-grade dysplastic lesions, preceding invasive-breast carcinoma and conferring phenotypic characteristics for dissemination.
Original languageEnglish
Article number443
Pages (from-to)-
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Mar 25 2016



  • Autophagy
  • Bone metastasis
  • Rab5a

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry

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