Generation and turnover of phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate (PtdIns3P) signaling is essential for autophagosome formation and other membrane traffic processes. In both Dictyostelium discoideum and mammalian cells, autophagosomes are formed from specialized regions of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), called omegasomes, which are enriched in the signaling lipid PtdIns3P. Vacuole membrane protein 1 (Vmp1) is a multispanning membrane protein localized at the ER that is required for autophagosome formation. There are conflicting reports in the literature as to whether Vmp1 is strictly required or not for autophagy-related PtdIns3P signaling and its hierarchical relationship with Atg1 and PI3K. We have now addressed these questions in the Dictyostelium model. We show that Dictyostelium cells lacking Vmp1 have elevated and aberrant PtdIns3P signaling on the ER, resulting in an increased and persistent recruitment of Atg18 and other autophagic proteins. This indicates that Vmp1 is not strictly essential for the generation of PtdIns3P signaling but rather suggests a role in the correct turnover or modulation of this signaling. Of interest, these PtdIns3P-enriched regions of the ER surround ubiquitinated protein aggregates but are unable to form functional autophagosomes. vmp1 null cells also have additional defects in macropinocytosis and growth, which are not shared by other autophagy mutants. Remarkably, we show that these defects and also the aberrant PtdIns3P distribution are largely suppressed by the concomitant loss of Atg1, indicating that aberrant autophagic signaling on the ER inhibits macropinocytosis. These results suggest that Atg1 functions upstream of Vmp1 in this signaling pathway and demonstrates a previously unappreciated link between abnormal autophagy signaling and macropinocytosis.
Keywords: Dictyostelium; PtdIns3P; TMEM49; Vmp1; autophagy; macropinocytosis; omegasome.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.