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J Cell Sci. 2012 Oct 15;125(Pt 20):4740-50. doi: 10.1242/jcs.100339. Epub 2012 Jul 13.

Beclin-1-interacting autophagy protein Atg14L targets the SNARE-associated protein Snapin to coordinate endocytic trafficking.

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Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA 90033, USA.


Autophagy is a highly regulated membrane remodeling process that allows the lysosome-mediated degradation of cytoplasmic entities by sequestrating them in double-membrane autophagosomes. Autophagy is hence highly intertwined with the endocytic trafficking pathway, sharing similar molecular machinery. Atg14L, also known as Beclin 1-associated autophagy-related key regulator (Barkor), directly interacts with Beclin 1 through its coiled-coil domain and enhances phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate kinase class III (PI3KC3) activity to induce autophagosome membrane nucleation, highlighting its essential role in the early stage of mammalian autophagy. Here, we report a novel function of Atg14L in the endocytic trafficking pathway wherein Atg14L binds to and colocalizes with the fusogenic SNARE effector protein Snapin to facilitate endosome maturation. Atg14L specifically binds to Snapin and this interaction effectively facilitates endosomal maturation without affecting autophagic cargo degradation. Consequently, atg14l knockdown significantly delayed the late stage of endocytic trafficking, as evidenced by the retarded kinetics of internalized surface receptor degradation. This phenotype was effectively complemented by wild-type Atg14L or Beclin 1-binding mutant, but not by its Snapin-binding mutant. Taken together, our study demonstrates that Atg14L functions as a multivalent trafficking effector that regulates endosome maturation as well as autophagosome formation, reflecting the complexity of the crosstalk between autophagic and endocytic vesicle trafficking in higher eukaryotes.

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