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Autophagy is a quality-control mechanism that helps to maintain cellular homeostasis by removing damaged proteins and organelles through lysosomal degradation. During autophagy, signaling events lead to the formation of a cup-shaped structure called the phagophore that matures into the autophagosome. Recruitment of the autophagy-associated Atg12-5-16L1 complex to Wipi2-positive phagophores is crucial for producing microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3-II (LC3-II), which is required for autophagosome formation. Here, we explored the role of the autophagy receptor optineurin (Optn) in autophagosome formation. Fibroblasts from Optn knock-out mouse showed reduced LC3-II formation and a lower number of autophagosomes and autolysosomes during both basal and starvation-induced autophagy. However, the number of Wipi2-positive phagophores was not decreased in Optn-deficient cells. We also found that the number of Atg12/16L1-positive puncta and recruitment of the Atg12-5-16L1 complex to Wipi2-positive puncta are reduced in Optn-deficient cells. Of note, Optn was recruited to Atg12-5-16L1-positive puncta, and interacted with Atg5 and also with Atg12-5 conjugate. A disease-associated Optn mutant, E478G, defective in ubiquitin binding, was also defective in autophagosome formation and recruitment to the Atg12-5-16L1-positive puncta. Moreover, we noted that Optn phosphorylation at Ser-177 was required for autophagosome formation but not for Optn recruitment to the phagophore. These results suggest that Optn potentiates LC3-II production and maturation of the phagophore into the autophagosome, by facilitating the recruitment of the Atg12-5-16L1 complex to Wipi2-positive phagophores.

Original publication




Journal article


J Biol Chem

Publication Date





132 - 147


AMP-activated kinase (AMPK), Atg12-5-16L1, Wipi2, autophagosome formation, autophagy, mutant, optineurin, phagophore maturation, phosphorylation, ubiquitin, Animals, Autophagosomes, Autophagy, Autophagy-Related Proteins, Carrier Proteins, Eye Proteins, Female, HEK293 Cells, Humans, Male, Membrane Proteins, Mice, Mice, Knockout, Microtubule-Associated Proteins, Protein Binding, Transcription Factor TFIIIA