During the development of cardiac hypertrophy, glucose deprivation (GD) associated with coronary microvascular rarefaction is caused, leading to cardiomyocyte death. Phosphorylation (inactivation) of eukaryotic elongation factor 2 (eEF2) by eEF2 kinase (eEF2K) inhibits protein translation, a highly energy consuming process, which plays protective roles against nutrient deprivation-induced cell death. We previously showed that eEF2 phosphorylation was increased in isolated heart from several cardiac hypertrophy models. In this study, we investigated whether eEF2K/eEF2 mediates the inhibition of cardiomyocyte death under GD condition. In H9c2 rat cardiomyoblasts cultured with serum-free medium, GD significantly augmented eEF2 phosphorylation and signals related to autophagy [increase of microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3 (LC3)-II to LC3-I ratio] and apoptosis (cleavage of caspase-3) as determined by Western blotting. GD induced cell death, which was augmented by eEF2K gene knockdown using a small interfering RNA. eEF2K gene knockdown significantly augmented GD-induced cleavage of caspase-3 and apoptotic nuclear condensation as determined by 4′, 6-diamidino-2-phenylindole staining. In contrast, eEF2K gene knockdown significantly inhibited GD-induced increase of LC3-II to LC3-I ratio and autophagosome formation as determined by an immunofluorescence staining. An inhibitor of autophagy, 3-methyladenine or bafilomycin A1 significantly augmented GD-induced cleavage of caspase-3. Further, eEF2K gene knockdown significantly inhibited GD-induced phosphorylation of adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK)α and its downstream substrate, unc-51 like autophagy activating kinase (ULK)1. An inhibitor of AMPK, dorsomorphin significantly inhibited GD-induced increase of LC3-II to LC3-I ratio. In conclusion, we for the first time revealed that eEF2K/eEF2 axis under GD condition mediates the inhibition of apoptotic H9c2 cell death at least in part via promotion of autophagy through AMPKα/ULK1 signaling pathway.
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This study was supported by the Grant for Scientific Research from Japan Society for Promotion of Science (JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number JP16J08307), NISHINOMIYA Basic Research Fund and Kato Memorial Bioscience Foundation, Japan.
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.