PI3KC3 complex subunit NRBF2 is required for apoptotic cell clearance to restrict intestinal inflammation

Ming Yue Wu, Le Liu, Er Jin Wang, Haitao Xiao, Cui Zan Cai, Jing Wang, Huanxing Su, Yitao Wang, Jieqiong Tan, Zhuohua Zhang, Juan Wang, Maojing Yao, De Fang Ouyang, Zhenyu Yue, Min Li*, Ye Chen*, Zhaoxiang Bian*, Jia Hong Lu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


NRBF2, a regulatory subunit of the ATG14-BECN1/Beclin 1-PIK3C3/VPS34 complex, positively regulates macroautophagy/autophagy. In this study, we report that NRBF2 is required for the clearance of apoptotic cells and alleviation of inflammation during colitis in mice. NRBF2-deficient mice displayed much more severe colitis symptoms after the administration of ulcerative colitis inducer, dextran sulfate sodium salt (DSS), accompanied by prominent intestinal inflammation and apoptotic cell accumulation. Interestingly, we found that nrbf2−/- mice and macrophages displayed impaired apoptotic cell clearance capability, while adoptive transfer of nrbf2+/+ macrophages to nrbf2−/- mice alleviated DSS-induced colitis lesions. Mechanistically, NRBF2 is required for the generation of the active form of RAB7 to promote the fusion between phagosomes containing engulfed apoptotic cells and lysosomes via interacting with the MON1-CCZ1 complex and regulating the guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) activity of the complex. Evidence from clinical samples further reveals the physiological role of NRBF2 in maintaining intestinal homeostasis. In biopsies of UC patient colon, we observed upregulated NRBF2 in the colon macrophages and the engulfment of apoptotic cells by NRBF2-positive cells, suggesting a potential protective role for NRBF2 in UC. To confirm the relationship between apoptotic cell clearance and IBD development, we compared TUNEL-stained cell counts in the UC with UC severity (Mayo Score) and observed a strong correlation between the two indexes, indicating that apoptotic cell population in colon tissue correlates with UC severity. The findings of our study reveal a novel role for NRBF2 in regulating apoptotic cell clearance to restrict intestinal inflammation. Abbreviation: ANOVA: analysis of variance; ATG14: autophagy related 14; ATG16L1: autophagy related 16-like 1 (S. cerevisiae); BMDM: bone marrow-derived macrophage; BSA: bovine serum albumin; CD: Crohn disease; CD68: CD68 molecule; CFP: cyan fluorescent protein; CMFDA: 5-chloromethylfluorescein diacetate; Co-IP, co-immunoprecipitation; CPR: C-reactive protein; Cy7: cyanine 7 maleimide; DAB: diaminobezidine 3; DAI: disease activity indexes; DAPI: 4ʹ6-diamidino-2-phenylindole; DMEM: dulbecco’s modified eagle’s medium; DMSO: dimethyl sulfoxide; DOC: sodium deoxycholate; DSS: dextran sulfate sodium; EDTA: ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid; EGTA: ethylenebis (oxyethylenenitrilo) tetraacetic acid; FBS: fetal bovine serum; FITC: fluorescein isothiocyanate; FRET: Förster resonance energy transfer; GDP: guanine dinucleotide phosphate; GEF: guanine nucleotide exchange factor; GFP: green fluorescent protein; GTP: guanine trinucleotide phosphate; GWAS: genome-wide association studies; HEK293: human embryonic kidney 293 cells; HRP: horseradish peroxidase; IBD: inflammatory bowel disease; IgG: immunoglobin G; IL1B/IL-1β: interleukin 1 beta; IL6: interleukin 6; IRGM: immunity related GTPase M; ITGAM/CD11b: integrin subunit alpha M; KO: knockout; LRRK2: leucine rich repeat kinase 2; MAP1LC3/LC3: microtubule associated protein 1 light chain 3; MOI: multiplicity of infection; MPO: myeloperoxidase; NaCl: sodium chloride; NEU: neutrophil; NOD2: nucleotide binding oligomerization domain containing 2; NP40: nonidet-P40; NRBF2: nuclear receptor binding factor 2; PBS: phosphate buffer saline; PCR: polymerase chain reaction; PE: P-phycoerythrin; PIK3C3/VPS34: phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase catalytic subunit type 3; PtdIns3P: phosphatidylinositol-3-phosphate; PTPRC/CD45: protein tyrosine phosphatase receptor type C; SDS-PAGE: sodium dodecylsulphate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis; TBST: tris-buffered saline Tween-20; Tris-HCl: trihydroxymethyl aminomethane hydrochloride; TUNEL: TdT-mediated dUTP nick-end labeling; UC: ulcerative colitis; ULK1: unc-51 like autophagy activating kinase 1; WB: western blotting; WT: wild type; YFP: yellow fluorescent protein.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1096-1111
Number of pages16
Issue number5
Early online date19 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

User-Defined Keywords

  • Apoptotic cell clearance
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • macrophage
  • MON1-CCZ1
  • NRBF2
  • RAB7


Dive into the research topics of 'PI3KC3 complex subunit NRBF2 is required for apoptotic cell clearance to restrict intestinal inflammation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this