Autophagic protein degradation is mediated by autophagosomes that fuse with lysosomes, where their contents are degraded. The membrane origins of autophagosomes may involve multiple sources. However, it is unclear if and where distinct membrane sources fuse during autophagosome biogenesis. Vesicles containing mATG9, the only transmembrane autophagy protein, are seen in many sites, and fusions with other autophagic compartments have not been visualized in mammalian cells. We observed that mATG9 traffics from the plasma membrane to recycling endosomes in carriers that appear to be routed differently from ATG16L1-containing vesicles, another source of autophagosome membrane. mATG9- and ATG16L1-containing vesicles traffic to recycling endosomes, where VAMP3-dependent heterotypic fusions occur. These fusions correlate with autophagosome formation, and both processes are enhanced by perturbing membrane egress from recycling endosomes. Starvation, a primordial autophagy activator, reduces membrane recycling from recycling endosomes and enhances mATG9-ATG16L1 vesicle fusion. Thus, this mechanism may fine-tune physiological autophagic responses.
Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.