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Autophagy. 2008 Aug;4(6):817-20. Epub 2008 Jun 25.

Beyond autophagy: the role of UVRAG in membrane trafficking.

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Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California 90033, USA.


Autophagy is a lysosome-directed membrane trafficking event for the degradation of cytoplasmic components, including organelles. The past few years have seen a great advance in our understanding of the cellular machinery of autophagosome biogenesis, the hallmark of autophagy. However, our global understanding of autophagosome maturity remains relatively poor and fragmented. The topological similarity of autophagosome and endosome delivery to lysosomes suggests that autophagic and endosomal maturation may have evolved to share associated machinery to promote the lysosomal delivery of their cargoes. We have recently discovered that UVRAG, originally identified as a Beclin 1-binding autophagy protein, appears to be an important factor in autophagic and endosomal trafficking through its interaction with the class C Vps tethering complex. Given the ability of UVRAG to bind Beclin 1 and the class C Vps complex in a genetically and functionally separable manner, it may serve as an important regulator for the spatial and/or temporal control of diverse cellular trafficking events. As more non-autophagic functions of UVRAG are unveiled, our understanding of seemingly different cellular processes may move a step further.

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