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Title: Autophagy-dependent generation of free fatty acids is essential for normal neutrophil differentiation by guiding an energy-metabolic switch
Author: Riffelmacher, Thomas
ISNI:       0000 0004 6500 9436
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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Neutrophils are critical and short lived mediators of innate immunity that require constant replenishment. Their differentiation in the bone marrow requires extensive cytoplasmic and nuclear remodeling, but the processes governing these energy-consuming changes are unknown. While previous studies show that autophagy is required for differentiation of other blood cell lineages, its function during granulopoiesis has remained elusive. Autophagy was described as a critical process in HSC differentiation and in memory- and regulatory T cells, where it prevents excessive glycolysis and maintains lipid metabolic homeostasis. In the myeloid lineage, an essential role for autophagy is to prevent pro-inflammatory macrophage polarization and to limit glycolytic metabolism of acute myeloid leukemia. While these studies provide robust in vivo evidence for the relevance of autophagy in the differentiation of hematopoietic and immune cells, the targets and mechanisms of autophagy remain elusive. Here, we show that metabolism and autophagy are developmentally programmed and essential for neutrophil differentiation in vivo. Atg7 -deficient neutrophil precursors had increased glycolytic activity but impaired mitochondrial respiration, decreased ATP production and accumulated lipid droplets. Inhibiting autophagy-mediated lipid degradation or fatty acid oxidation alone was sufficient to cause defective differentiation, while administration of fatty acids or pyruvate for mitochondrial respiration rescued differentiation in autophagy deficient neutrophil precursors. Together, we show that autophagy-mediated lipolysis provides free fatty acids to support a mitochondrial respiration pathway essential to neutrophil differentiation. Evidence presented here also contributed to studies on autophagy-mediated metabolic homeostasis in HSCs, Treg cells and myeloid leukemia, suggesting that this pathway may act broadly during differentiation.
Supervisor: Simon, Anna K. ; Jacobsen, Sten Eirik W. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available