DAP-kinase and autophagy

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DAP-kinase (DAPK) is a Ca2+-calmodulin regulated kinase with various, diverse cellular activities, including regulation of apoptosis and caspase-independent death programs, cytoskeletal dynamics, and immune functions. Recently, DAPK has also been shown to be a critical regulator of autophagy, a catabolic process whereby the cell consumes cytoplasmic contents and organelles within specialized vesicles, called autophagosomes. Here we present the latest findings demonstrating how DAPK modulates autophagy. DAPK positively contributes to the induction stage of autophagosome nucleation by modulating the Vps34 class III phosphatidyl inositol 3-kinase complex by two independent mechanisms. The first involves a kinase cascade in which DAPK phosphorylates protein kinase D, which then phosphorylates and activates Vps34. In the second mechanism, DAPK directly phosphorylates Beclin 1, a necessary component of the Vps34 complex, thereby releasing it from its inhibitor, Bcl-2. In addition to these established pathways, we will discuss additional connections between DAPK and autophagy and potential mechanisms that still remain to be fully validated. These include myosin-dependent trafficking of Atg9-containing vesicles to the sites of autophagosome formation, membrane fusion events that contribute to expansion of the autophagosome membrane and maturation through the endocytic pathway, and trafficking to the lysosome on microtubules. Finally, we discuss how DAPK's participation in the autophagic process may be related to its function as a tumor suppressor protein, and its role in neurodegenerative diseases.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)346-356
Number of pages11
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014


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