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Sci Rep. 2013;3:1055. doi: 10.1038/srep01055. Epub 2013 Jan 11.

The VMP1-Beclin 1 interaction regulates autophagy induction.

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  • 1Institute for Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, CONICET, Department of Pathophysiology, School of Pharmacy and Biochemistry, University of Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina.


The Vacuole Membrane Protein 1 -VMP1- is a pancreatitis-associated transmembrane protein whose expression triggers autophagy in several human diseases. In the current study, we unveil the mechanism through which this protein induces autophagosome formation in mammalian cells. We show that VMP1 autophagy-related function requires its 20-aminoacid C-terminus hydrophilic domain (VMP1-AtgD). This is achieved through its direct binding to the BH3 motif of Beclin 1 leading to the formation of a complex with the Class III phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI3K) hVps34, a key positive regulator of autophagy, at the site where autophagosomes are generated. This interaction also concomitantly promotes the dissociation of Bcl-2, an autophagy inhibitor, from Beclin 1. Moreover, we show that the VMP1-Beclin 1-hVps34 complex favors the association of Atg16L1 and LC3 with the autophagosomal membranes. Collectively, these findings reveal that VMP1 expression recruits and activates the Class III PI3K complex at the site of autophagosome formation during mammalian autophagy.

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