Mediobasal hypothalamic FKBP51 acts as a molecular switch linking autophagy to whole-body metabolism

The mediobasal hypothalamus (MBH) is the central region in the physiological response to metabolic stress. The FK506-binding protein 51 (FKBP51) is a major modulator of the stress response and has recently emerged as a scaffolder regulating metabolic and autophagy pathways. However, the detailed protein-protein interactions linking FKBP51 to autophagy upon metabolic challenges remain elusive. We performed mass spectrometryโ€“based metabolomics of FKBP51 knockout (KO) cells revealing an increased amino acid and polyamine metabolism. We identified FKBP51 as a central nexus for the recruitment of the LKB1/AMPK complex to WIPI4 and TSC2 to WIPI3, thereby regulating the balance between autophagy and mTOR signaling in response to metabolic challenges.

Furthermore, we demonstrated that MBH FKBP51 deletion strongly induces obesity, while its overexpression protects against high-fat diet (HFD)โ€“induced obesity. Our study provides an important novel regulatory function of MBH FKBP51 within the stress-adapted autophagy response to metabolic challenges