Autophagy is mediated by a unique organelle, the autophagosome, which encloses a portion of the cytoplasm for delivery to the lysosome. Phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate (PtdIns3P) produced by the class III phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PtdIns3K) complex is essential for canonical autophagosome formation. RAB5A, a small GTPase localized to early endosomes, has been shown to associate with the class III PtdIns3K complex, regulate its activity and promote autophagosome formation. However, little is known about how endosome-localized RAB5A functions with the class III PtdIns3K complex. Here we identified a novel endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-localized transmembrane protein, ER membrane protein complex subunit 6 (EMC6), which interacted with both RAB5A and BECN1/Beclin 1 and colocalized with the omegasome marker ZFYVE1/DFCP1. It was shown to regulate autophagosome formation, and its deficiency caused the accumulation of autophagosomal precursor structures and impaired autophagy. Our study showed for the first time that EMC6 is a novel regulator involved in autophagy.
Keywords: BECN1; EMC6; RAB5A; autophagy; endoplasmic reticulum.