TFEB-driven endocytosis coordinates MTORC1 signaling and autophagy

Autophagy. 2019 Jan;15(1):151-164. doi: 10.1080/15548627.2018.1511504. Epub 2018 Sep 10.


The mechanistic target of rapamycin kinase complex 1 (MTORC1) is a central cellular kinase that integrates major signaling pathways, allowing for regulation of anabolic and catabolic processes including macroautophagy/autophagy and lysosomal biogenesis. Essential to these processes is the regulatory activity of TFEB (transcription factor EB). In a regulatory feedback loop modulating transcriptional levels of RRAG/Rag GTPases, TFEB controls MTORC1 tethering to membranes and induction of anabolic processes upon nutrient replenishment. We now show that TFEB promotes expression of endocytic genes and increases rates of cellular endocytosis during homeostatic baseline and starvation conditions. TFEB-mediated endocytosis drives assembly of the MTORC1-containing nutrient sensing complex through the formation of endosomes that carry the associated proteins RRAGD, the amino acid transporter SLC38A9, and activate AKT/protein kinase B (AKT p-T308). TFEB-induced signaling endosomes en route to lysosomes are induced by amino acid starvation and are required to dissociate TSC2, re-tether and activate MTORC1 on endolysosomal membranes. This study characterizes TFEB-mediated endocytosis as a critical process leading to activation of MTORC1 and autophagic function, thus identifying the importance of the dynamic endolysosomal system in cellular clearance. Abbreviations: CAD: central adrenergic tyrosine hydroxylase-expressing-a-differentiated; ChIP-seq: chromosome immunoprecipitation sequencing; DAPI: 4',6-diamidino-2-phenylindole; DMSO: dimethyl sulfoxide; EDTA: ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid; EEA1: early endosomal antigen 1; EGF: epidermal growth factor; FBS: fetal bovine serum; GFP: green fluorescent protein; GTPase: guanosine triphosphatase; HEK293T: human embryonic kidney 293 cells expressing a temperature-sensitive mutant of the SV40 large T antigen; LAMP: lysosomal-associated membrane protein; LYNUS: lysosomal nutrient-sensing complex; MAP1LC3/LC3: microtubule associated protein 1 light chain 3 alpha/beta; MTOR: mechanistic target of rapamycin kinase; MTORC: mechanistic target of rapamycin kinase complex; OE: overexpression; PH: pleckstrin homology; PtdIns(3,4,5)P3: phosphatidylinositol 3,4,5-trisphosphate; RRAGD: Ras related GTPase binding D; RHEB: Ras homolog enriched in brain; SLC38A9: solute carrier family 38 member 9; SQSTM1: sequestosome 1; TFEB: transcription factor EB; TSC2: tuberous sclerosis 2; TMR: tetramethylrhodamine; ULK1: unc-51 like kinase 1; WT: wild type.

Keywords: Autophagic mechanisms; TOR signaling; cell biology; endosome; lysosome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autophagy / genetics*
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors / physiology*
  • Caloric Restriction
  • Endocytosis / genetics*
  • Endocytosis / physiology
  • HEK293 Cells
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1 / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • NIH 3T3 Cells
  • Signal Transduction / genetics


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors
  • TFEB protein, human
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1