The role of RIPK3 ubiquitylation and MLKL signalling during cell death and autophagy
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2021 Daniel Frank
Receptor Interacting Serine/Threonine Kinase-3 (RIPK3) is essential for necroptosis, an inflammatory form of programmed cell death pathway implicated in innate immunity, kidney ischemia reperfusion injury, and systemic inflammatory response syndrome. In the classical model, cells committed to necroptosis phosphorylate RIPK1, which in turn drives RIPK3 phosphorylation and oligomerisation. Active RIPK3 oligomers subsequently phosphorylate mixed lineage kinase domain-like protein (MLKL) pseudokinase which induces its translocation to the plasma membrane. The necroptosis pathway culminates in MLKL perforating the plasma membrane as a prelude to cellular rupture and release of inflammatory cytokines and damage-associated molecular patterns to the extracellular milieu. In addition to being a pro-necroptotic kinase, RIPK3 is also capable of triggering apoptosis when its kinase activity is restrained. Moreover, numerous death-independent roles of RIPK3 have been described in the context of inflammation such as arthritis, viral infection, or colitis whereby RIPK3 either promotes or dampens the secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Understanding the molecular regulation of RIPK3 will thereby facilitate the ongoing pre-clinical development of RIPK3 inhibitors. Like most proteins, post-translational modification (PTM) is a critical fine tuner of RIPK3 activities. Ubiquitylation, in particular, has recently garnered attention in the cell death field as loss of this PTM may result in hyperactive RIPK3 which consequently accelerates death and inflammation. However, the post-translational control of RIPK3 signalling is not fully understood. Using mass-spectrometry, I identified a novel ubiquitylation site on murine RIPK3 on lysine 469 (K469). Complementation of RIPK3-deficient cells with a RIPK3-K469R mutant demonstrated that the decoration of RIPK3 K469 by ubiquitin limits both RIPK3-mediated caspase-8 activation and apoptotic killing, in addition to RIPK3 autophosphorylation and MLKL-mediated necroptosis. Unexpectedly, the overall ubiquitylation of mutant RIPK3-K469R was enhanced, which largely resulted from additional RIPK3 ubiquitylation upstream on lysine 359 (K359). Loss of RIPK3-K359 ubiquitylation reduced RIPK3-K469R hyper-ubiquitylation and also RIPK3-K469R killing. Collectively, I therefore propose that ubiquitylation of RIPK3 on K469 functions to prevent RIPK3 hyper-ubiquitylation on alternate lysine residues, which otherwise promote RIPK3 oligomerisation and consequent cell death signalling. I further investigated the consequence of abolishing RIPK3 K469 ubiquitylation by generating Ripk3K469R/K469R mice. In agreement with in vitro findings, primary fibroblasts with mutant RIPK3-K469R enhanced apoptosis, and in vivo studies demonstrate that RIPK3-K469 ubiquitylation contributes to pathogen clearance. Specifically, when Ripk3K469R/K469R mice were challenged with Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, bacterial loads in the spleen and liver were significantly increased relative to wildtype control animals. The increased bacterial burden in the mutant mice was consistent with reduced IFNg produced in the serum, while the elevated MCP-1 cytokine upon infection might be indicative of heightened immune infiltrates. Although necroptosis signalling clearly triggers cell death, how it might impact other cellular responses remains unclear. Therefore, to further delineate the functional outcomes of necroptotic activity I examined how its signalling impacts autophagy. The autophagy pathway is triggered when cells are deprived of nutrients. Although regarded as a pro-survival pathway which acts to recycle and remove damaged organelles, studies have recognised that autophagic pathways can impact cell death processes. In apoptosis, for instance, autophagy acts to limit pro-inflammatory IFN-b secretion, thus decreasing apoptotic immunogenicity. Nonetheless, little is known about the status of autophagy during necroptosis. I demonstrate through various genetic, imaging, and pharmacological approaches that active MLKL translocates to autophagic membranes during necroptosis. However, contrary to previous findings which reported the activation of autophagy upon necroptotic activity based on increased lipidated LC3B, a commonly used marker of autophagy induction, I challenged this conclusion by demonstrating that the accumulation of active LC3B during necroptosis is a consequence of reduced autophagic flux. Therefore, unlike apoptosis which proceeds in tandem with autophagy, the induction of necroptosis negates autophagy in an MLKL-dependent manner. While the function of MLKL-mediated autophagy inhibition warrants further investigation, I propose that attenuating autophagy during necroptosis contributes to the immunogenicity of this cell death modality by limiting the ability of the cell to clear damaged organelles and immunogenic molecules. Overall, my research has helped in outlining how a key necroptotic molecule RIPK3 is regulated post-translationally and how this is relevant in the context of microbial defence. I have also defined novel functional roles for necroptosis signalling in the regulation of autophagic responses. Understanding the molecular regulation of necroptosis signalling and how this cell death pathway is linked to other cellular responses, such as autophagy, is important for the accurate design of new therapeutics to target these pathways in pathological settings.
Keywordsnecroptosis; apoptosis; cell death; RIPK3; MLKL; caspase-8; ubiquitin; autophagy; LC3
- Click on "Export Reference in RIS Format" and choose "open with... Endnote".
- Click on "Export Reference in RIS Format". Login to Refworks, go to References => Import References