The tripartite interaction of phosphate, autophagy, and αKlotho in health maintenance

Mingjun Shi, Jenny Maique, Joy Shaffer, Taylor Davidson, Salwa Sebti, Álvaro F. Fernández, Zhongju Zou, Shirley Yan, Beth Levine, Orson W. Moe, Ming Chang Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Aging-related organ degeneration is driven by multiple factors including the cell maintenance mechanisms of autophagy, the cytoprotective protein αKlotho, and the lesser known effects of excess phosphate (Pi), or phosphotoxicity. To examine the interplay between Pi, autophagy, and αKlotho, we used the BK/BK mouse (homozygous for mutant Becn1F121A) with increased autophagic flux, and αKlotho-hypomorphic mouse (kl/kl) with impaired urinary Pi excretion, low autophagy, and premature organ dysfunction. BK/BK mice live longer than WT littermates, and have heightened phosphaturia from downregulation of two key NaPi cotransporters in the kidney. The multi-organ failure in kl/kl mice was rescued in the double-mutant BK/BK;kl/kl mice exhibiting lower plasma Pi, improved weight gain, restored plasma and renal αKlotho levels, decreased pathology of multiple organs, and improved fertility compared to kl/kl mice. The beneficial effects of heightened autophagy from Becn1F121A was abolished by chronic high-Pi diet which also shortened life span in the BK/BK;kl/kl mice. Pi promoted beclin 1 binding to its negative regulator BCL2, which impairs autophagy flux. Pi downregulated αKlotho, which also independently impaired autophagy. In conclusion, Pi, αKlotho, and autophagy interact intricately to affect each other. Both autophagy and αKlotho antagonizes phosphotoxicity. In concert, this tripartite system jointly determines longevity and life span.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3129-3150
Number of pages22
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020


  • BCL2
  • NaPi cotransporter
  • aging
  • autophagy
  • beclin 1
  • fertility
  • longevity
  • phosphorus
  • phosphotoxicity
  • αKlotho

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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