Regulation of Selective Autophagy Onset by a Ypt/Rab GTPase Module

The key regulators of intracellular trafficking, Ypt/Rab GTPases, are stimulated by specific upstream activators and, when activated, recruit specific downstream effectors to mediate membrane transport events. The yeast Ypt1 and its human functional homolog hRab1 regulate both endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-to-Golgi transport and autophagy. However, it is not clear whether the mechanism by which these GTPases regulate autophagy depends on their well-documented function in ER-to-Golgi transport. Here, we identify Atg11, the pre-autophagosomal structure (PAS) organizer, as a downstream effector of Ypt1 and show that the Ypt1-Atg11 interaction is required for PAS assembly under normal growth conditions. Moreover, we show that Ypt1 and Atg11 co-localize with Trs85, a Ypt1 activator subunit, and together they regulate selective autophagy. Finally, we show that Ypt1 and Trs85 interact on Atg9-containing membranes, which serve as a source for the membrane component of PAS. Together our results define the first Ypt/Rab module – comprising of activator, GTPase and effector – that orchestrates the onset of selective autophagy, a process vital for cell homeostasis. Furthermore, because Atg11 does not play a role in ER-to-Golgi transport, this is the first demonstration that Ypt/Rabs can regulate two independent membrane transport processes by recruiting process-specific effectors.

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