Secretory autophagy promotes Rab37-mediated exocytosis of tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 1

Shan Ying Wu, Jia Wen Chen, Hsi Yu Liu, Yi Ching Wang, Yeh Shiu Chu, Chi Ying Huang, Kai Ying Lan, Hsiao Sheng Liu, Sheng Hui Lan

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Rab37-mediated exocytosis of tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 1 (TIMP1), an inflammatory cytokine, under serum-depleted conditions which leads to suppression of lung cancer cell metastasis has been reported. Starvation is also a stimulus of autophagic activity. Herein, we reveal that starvation activates Rab37 and induces autophagy. Methods: We used an overexpression/knockdown system to determine the relationship between autophagy and Rab37 in vitro and in vivo. The autophagy activity was detected by immunoblotting, transmission electron microscope, autophagosome purification, and immunofluorescence under the confocal microscope. Lung-to-lung metastasis mouse model was used to clarify the role of autophagy and Rab37 in lung cancer. Clinical lung cancer patient specimens and an online big database were analyzed. Results: Initially, we demonstrated that active-form Rab37 increased LC3-II protein level (the marker of autophagosome) and TIMP1 secretion. Accordingly, silencing of Rab37 gene expression alleviated Rab37 and LC3-II levels as well as TIMP1 secretion, and induction of autophagy could not increase TIMP1 exocytosis under such conditions. Moreover, silencing the Atg5 or Atg7 gene of lung cancer cells harboring active-mutant Rab37 (Q89L) led to decreased autophagy activity and TIMP1 secretion. In the lung-to-lung metastasis mouse model, increased TIMP1 expression accompanied by amiodarone-induced autophagy led to decreased tumor nodules and cancer cell metastasis. These phenomena were reversed by silencing the Atg5 or Atg7 gene. Notably, increasing autophagy activity alone showed no effect on TIMP1 secretion under either Rab37 or Sec22b silencing conditions. We further detected colocalization of LC3 with either Rab37 or TIMP1, identified Rab37 and Sec22b proteins in the purified autophagosomes of the lung cancer cells harboring the active-form Rab37 gene, and confirmed that these proteins are involved in the secretion of TIMP1. We reveal that autophagic activity was significantly lower in the tumors compared to the non-tumor parts and was associated with the overall lung cancer patient survival rate. Conclusions: We are the first to report that autophagy plays a promoting role in TIMP1 secretion and metastasis in a Rab37-dependent manner in lung cancer cells and the lung-to-lung mouse model.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103
JournalJournal of biomedical science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Dec

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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