Proteasome activity and autophagosome content in liver are reciprocally regulated by ethanol treatment

Paul G. Thomes, Casey S. Trambly, Geoffrey M. Thiele, Michael J. Duryee, Howard S. Fox, James Haorah, Terrence M. Donohue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


The proteasome and autophagy are two major intracellular protein degradation pathways and the regulation of each by ethanol metabolism affects cellular integrity. Using acute and chronic ethanol feeding to mice in vivo, and precision-cut rat liver slices (PCLS) ex vivo, we examined whether ethanol treatment altered these proteolytic pathways. In acute studies, we gave C57Bl/6 mice either ethanol or phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) by gastric intubation and sacrificed them 12. h later. PCLS were exposed to 0 or 50. mM ethanol for 12 and 24. h with or without 4-methylpyrazole (4MP). In chronic studies we pair-fed control and ethanol liquid diets for 4-6. weeks to transgenic mice, expressing the green fluorescent protein (GFP) fused to the autophagic marker, microtubule associated protein-1 light chain 3 (LC3). Acute ethanol administration elevated autophagosomes (AVs), as judged by a 1.5-fold increase in LC3II content over PBS-gavaged control mice. Hepatic proteasome activity was unaffected by this treatment. Compared with controls, ethanol exposure for 12 and 24. h to PCLS inhibited proteasome activity by 1.5- to 3-fold and simultaneously enhanced AVs by 2- to 5-fold. The decrease in proteasome activity and the rise in AVs both depended on ethanol oxidation as its inhibition by 4-methylpyrazole (4MP) blocked both proteasome inhibition and AV induction. Hepatocytes from mice chronically consuming ethanol exhibited a 1.6-fold decline in proteasome activity, and a 4-fold rise in GFP-LC3 puncta compared with pair-fed control mice. When we exposed hepatocytes from these animals to MG262, a proteasome inhibitor, LC3II puncta per cell further increased 2- to 5-fold over untreated cells. Conclusion: Our findings demonstrate that ethanol metabolism generates oxidants, the levels of which differentially influence the activities of the proteasome and autophagy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)262-267
Number of pages6
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 6 2012
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


  • Alcoholic liver injury
  • Autophagosomes
  • Lysosomes
  • Oxidant stress
  • Proteolysis


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