Chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA) is a pathway in the autophagy-lysosome protein degradation system. CMA impairment has been implicated to play a role in spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA) pathogenesis. D-cysteine is metabolized by D-amino acid oxidase (DAO), leading to hydrogen sulfide generation in the cerebellum. Although D-cysteine alleviates the disease phenotypes in SCA-model mice, it remains unknown how hydrogen sulfide derived from D-cysteine exerts this effect. In the present study, we investigated the effects of D-cysteine and hydrogen sulfide on CMA activity using a CMA activity marker that we have established. D-cysteine activated CMA in Purkinje cells (PCs) of primary cerebellar cultures where DAO was expressed, while it failed to activate CMA in DAO-deficient AD293 cells. In contrast, Na2S, a hydrogen sulfide donor, activated CMA in both PCs and AD293 cells. Nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) is known to be activated by hydrogen sulfide and regulate CMA activity. An Nrf2 inhibitor, ML385, prevented CMA activation triggered by D-cysteine and Na2S. Additionally, long-term treatment with D-cysteine increased the amounts of Nrf2 and LAMP2A, a CMA-related protein, in the mouse cerebellum. These findings suggest that hydrogen sulfide derived from D-cysteine enhances CMA activity via Nrf2 activation.
Keywords: Nrf2; aromatic-turmerone; dopaminergic neurons; microglia.