Autophagy, a process of self-digestion of cellular constituents, regulates the balance between protein synthesis and protein degradation. Beclin 1 represents an important component of the autophagic machinery. It interacts with proteins that positively regulate autophagy, such as Vps34, UVRAG, and Ambra1, as well as with anti-apoptotic proteins such as Bcl-2 via its BH3-like domain to negatively regulate autophagy. Thus, Beclin 1 interactions with several proteins may regulate autophagy. To identify novel Beclin 1 interacting proteins, we utilized a GST-Beclin 1 fusion protein. Using mass spectroscopic analysis, we identified Beclin 1 as a protein that interacts with GST-Beclin 1. Further examination by cross linking and co-immunoprecipitation experiments confirmed that Beclin 1 self-interacts and that the coiled coil and the N-terminal region of Beclin 1 contribute to its oligomerization. Importantly, overexpression of vps34, UVRAG, or Bcl-x(L), had no effect on Beclin 1 self-interaction. Moreover, this self-interaction was independent of autophagy induction by amino acid deprivation or rapamycin treatment. These results suggest that full-length Beclin 1 is a stable oligomer under various conditions. Such an oligomer may provide a platform for further protein-protein interactions.
Published 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.