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Cysteine protease ATG4B (EC 3.4.22.-) (AUT-like 1 cysteine endopeptidase) (Autophagin-1) (Autophagy-related cysteine endopeptidase 1) (Autophagy-related protein 4 homolog B) (hAPG4B) [APG4B] [AUTL1] [KIAA0943]


Impaired autophagic activity and ATG4B deficiency are associated with increased endoplasmic reticulum stress-induced lung injury.

Aging is the main risk factor for the development of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a progressive and usually lethal lung disorder. Although the pathogenic mechanisms are uncertain, endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and impaired proteostasis that have been linked with aging are strongly associated with the pathogenesis of IPF. Using the Atg4b-deficient mice as a model, that partially reproduces the autophagy deficient conditions reported in aging and IPF lungs, we show for the first time how autophagy impairment and ER stress induction, contribute simultaneously to development of lung fibrosis in vivo. Increased expression of ER stress markers, inflammation and apoptosis of alveolar epithelial cells were observed in Atg4b-deficient mice compared to WT mice, when treated with the ER stress inducer tunicamycin. After tunicamycin treatment, Atg4b null lungs showed accumulation of its substrate LC3-I, demonstrating that these mice failed to induce autophagy despite the ER stress conditions. We also showed that compromised autophagy in lungs from Atg4b null mice is associated with exacerbated lung damage, epithelial apoptosis and the development of lung fibrosis at 21 days after tunicamycin treatment. Our findings indicate that ATG4B protein and autophagy are essential to mitigate ER stress and to prevent tunicamycin-induced epithelial apoptosis and lung fibrosis.

MeSH Terms

  • Animals
  • Autophagy
  • Autophagy-Related Proteins
  • Cell Line
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Lung
  • Respiratory Mucosa
  • Tunicamycin


  • ATG4B
  • ER stress
  • aging
  • autophagy
  • epithelial apoptosis
  • lung fibrosis

Critical role of autophage in ischemia/reperfusion injury to aged livers.

A steady increase in life expectancy has resulted in an equivalent increase in elderly patients who are more susceptible to diseases than young patients. In a recent study, we found that in both in vitro and in vivo models of ischemia/reperfusion (I/R), a loss of ATG4B is causatively associated with the increased sensitivity of the liver to I/R injury with age. Our work suggests that a restoration or enhancement of autophagy is a novel therapeutic modality to ameliorate liver function after I/R to aged livers.

MeSH Terms

  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Autophagy
  • Hepatocytes
  • Humans
  • Liver
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Mice
  • Models, Biological
  • Reperfusion Injury