The homeodomain-interacting protein kinase HPK-1 preserves protein homeostasis and longevity through master regulatory control of the HSF-1 chaperone network and TORC1-restricted autophagy in Caenorhabditis elegans

Ritika Das, Justine A. Melo, Manjunatha Thondamal, Elizabeth A. Morton, Adam B. Cornwell, Beresford Crick, Joung Heon Kim, Elliot W. Swartz, Todd Lamitina, Peter M. Douglas, Andrew V. Samuelson

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An extensive proteostatic network comprised of molecular chaperones and protein clearance mechanisms functions collectively to preserve the integrity and resiliency of the proteome. The efficacy of this network deteriorates during aging, coinciding with many clinical manifestations, including protein aggregation diseases of the nervous system. A decline in proteostasis can be delayed through the activation of cytoprotective transcriptional responses, which are sensitive to environmental stress and internal metabolic and physiological cues. The homeodomain-interacting protein kinase (hipk) family members are conserved transcriptional co-factors that have been implicated in both genotoxic and metabolic stress responses from yeast to mammals. We demonstrate that constitutive expression of the sole Caenorhabditis elegans Hipk homolog, hpk-1, is sufficient to delay aging, preserve proteostasis, and promote stress resistance, while loss of hpk-1 is deleterious to these phenotypes. We show that HPK-1 preserves proteostasis and extends longevity through distinct but complementary genetic pathways defined by the heat shock transcription factor (HSF-1), and the target of rapamycin complex 1 (TORC1). We demonstrate that HPK-1 antagonizes sumoylation of HSF-1, a post-translational modification associated with reduced transcriptional activity in mammals. We show that inhibition of sumoylation by RNAi enhances HSF-1-dependent transcriptional induction of chaperones in response to heat shock. We find that hpk-1 is required for HSF-1 to induce molecular chaperones after thermal stress and enhances hormetic extension of longevity. We also show that HPK-1 is required in conjunction with HSF-1 for maintenance of proteostasis in the absence of thermal stress, protecting against the formation of polyglutamine (Q35::YFP) protein aggregates and associated locomotory toxicity. These functions of HPK-1/HSF-1 undergo rapid down-regulation once animals reach reproductive maturity. We show that HPK-1 fortifies proteostasis and extends longevity by an additional independent mechanism: induction of autophagy. HPK-1 is necessary for induction of autophagosome formation and autophagy gene expression in response to dietary restriction (DR) or inactivation of TORC1. The autophagy-stimulating transcription factors pha-4/FoxA and mxl-2/Mlx, but not hlh-30/TFEB or the nuclear hormone receptor nhr-62, are necessary for extended longevity resulting from HPK-1 overexpression. HPK-1 expression is itself induced by transcriptional mechanisms after nutritional stress, and post-transcriptional mechanisms in response to thermal stress. Collectively our results position HPK-1 at a central regulatory node upstream of the greater proteostatic network, acting at the transcriptional level by promoting protein folding via chaperone expression, and protein turnover via expression of autophagy genes. HPK-1 therefore provides a promising intervention point for pharmacological agents targeting the protein homeostasis system as a means of preserving robust longevity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1007038
JournalPLoS genetics
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2017


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Cancer Research

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