Autophagic flux inhibition and lysosomogenesis ensuing cellular capture and retention of the cationic drug quinacrine in murine models.

PMID 26500823


The proton pump vacuolar (V)-ATPase is the driving force that mediates the concentration of cationic drugs (weak bases) in the late endosome-lysosome continuum; secondary cell reactions include the protracted transformation of enlarged vacuoles into autophagosomes. We used the inherently fluorescent tertiary amine quinacrine in murine models to further assess the accumulation and signaling associated with cation trapping. Primary fibroblasts concentrate quinacrine ∼5,000-fold from their culture medium (KM 9.8 µM; transport studies). The drug is present in perinuclear granules that are mostly positive for Rab7 and LAMP1 (microscopy). Both drug uptake and retention are extensively inhibited by treatments with the V-ATPase inhibitor bafilomycin A1. The H(+) ionophore monensin also prevented quinacrine concentration by fibroblasts. However, inhibition of plasma membrane transporters or of the autophagic process with spautin-1 did not alter quinacrine transport parameters. Ancillary experiments did not support that low micromolar concentrations of quinacrine are substrates for organic cation transporters-1 to -3 or P-glycoprotein. The secondary autophagy induced by quinacrine in cells may derive from the accumulation of incompetent autophagolysosomes, as judged from the accumulation of p62/SQSTM1 and LC3 II (immunoblots). Accordingly, protracted lysosomogenesis is evidenced by increased expression of LAMP1 and LAMP2 in quinacrine-treated fibroblasts (48 h, immunoblots), a response that follows the nuclear translocation of the lysosomal genesis transcription factor TFEB and upregulation of LAMP1 and -2 mRNAs (24 h). Quinacrine administration to live mice evidenced variable distribution to various organs and heterogeneous accumulation within the lung (stereo-microscopy, extraction). Dose-dependent in vivo autophagic and lysosomal accumulation was observed in the lung (immunoblots). No evidence has been found for transport or extrusion mechanisms modulating the cellular uptake of micromolar quinacrine at the plasma membrane level. As shown in vitro and in vivo, V-ATPase-mediated cation sequestration is associated, above a certain threshold, to autophagic flux inhibition and feed-back lysosomogenesis.