Cdk5-mediated Acn/Acinus phosphorylation regulates basal autophagy independently of metabolic stress

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6 Scopus citations


In neurons, autophagy counteracts consequences of aging. It is therefore of interest how basal rates of macroautophagy/autophagy can be controlled independently of metabolic stress. We recently investigated the regulation of basal, starvation-independent autophagy by Acn/Acinus, a multifunctional nuclear protein with proposed roles in apoptosis, alternative RNA splicing, and basal autophagy. We found that Acn is stabilized by phosphorylation of the conserved serine 437. The phosphomimetic AcnS437D mutation causes no overt developmental phenotypes, but significantly elevates levels of basal autophagy and extends life spans. An RNAi screen identified Cdk5 as a kinase targeting S437, a role confirmed by gain- and loss-of-function mutants of Cdk5 or its obligatory cofactor Cdk5r1/p35. Flies lacking Cdk5 function display reduced basal autophagy and a shortened life span. Both of these phenotypes are suppressed by the phosphomimetic AcnS437D mutation, indicating that phosphorylating serine 437 of Acn, and thereby maintaining basal levels of autophagy, is critical for Cdk5's function in maintaining neuronal health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1271-1272
Number of pages2
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 3 2018


  • Drosophila neurodegeneration
  • p38b MAP kinase
  • proteostasis
  • stress-regulated kinases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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