Macroautophagy is an evolutionarily conserved degradative process of eukaryotic cells. Double-membrane vesicles called autophagosomes sequester portions of cytoplasm and undergo fusion with the endolysosomal pathway in order to degrade their content. There is growing evidence that members of the small GTPase RAB protein family-the well-known regulators of membrane trafficking and fusion events-play key roles in the regulation of the autophagic process. Despite numerous studies focusing on the functions of RAB proteins in autophagy, the importance of their upstream regulators in this process emerged only in the past few years. In this review, we summarize recent advances on the effects of RABs and their upstream modulators in the regulation of autophagy. Moreover, we discuss how impairment of these proteins alters the autophagic process leading to several generally known human diseases.
Keywords: GAP; GEF; RAB; autophagy; small GTPases.