Atg11: A Rab-dependent, coiled-coil membrane protein that acts as a tether for autophagy

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Selective macroautophagy uses double-membrane vesicles, termed autophagosomes, to transport cytoplasmic pathogens, organelles and protein complexes to the vacuole for degradation. Autophagosomes are formed de novo by membrane fusion events at the phagophore assembly site (PAS). Therefore, precursor membrane material must be targeted and transported to the PAS. While some autophagy-related (Atg) proteins, such as Atg9 and Atg11, are known to be involved in this process, most of the mechanistic details are not understood. Previous work has also implicated the small Rab-family GTPase Ypt1 in the process, identifying Trs85 as a unique subunit of the TRAPPIII targeting complex and showing that it plays a macroautophagy-specific role; however, the relationship between Ypt1, Atg9 and Atg11 was not clear. Now, a recent report shows that Atg11 is a Trs85-specific effector of the Rab Ypt1, and may act as a classic coiled-coil membrane tether that targets Atg9-containing membranes to the PAS. Here, we review this finding in the context of what is known about Atg11, other Rab-dependent coiled-coil tethers, and other tethering complexes involved in autophagosome formation.

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