Bcl-2-like protein 13 is a mammalian Atg32 homologue that mediates mitophagy and mitochondrial fragmentation

Nat Commun. 2015 Jul 6;6:7527. doi: 10.1038/ncomms8527.


Damaged mitochondria are removed by mitophagy. Although Atg32 is essential for mitophagy in yeast, no Atg32 homologue has been identified in mammalian cells. Here, we show that Bcl-2-like protein 13 (Bcl2-L-13) induces mitochondrial fragmentation and mitophagy in mammalian cells. First, we hypothesized that unidentified mammalian mitophagy receptors would share molecular features of Atg32. By screening the public protein database for Atg32 homologues, we identify Bcl2-L-13. Bcl2-L-13 binds to LC3 through the WXXI motif and induces mitochondrial fragmentation and mitophagy in HEK293 cells. In Bcl2-L-13, the BH domains are important for the fragmentation, while the WXXI motif facilitates mitophagy. Bcl2-L-13 induces mitochondrial fragmentation in the absence of Drp1, while it induces mitophagy in Parkin-deficient cells. Knockdown of Bcl2-L-13 attenuates mitochondrial damage-induced fragmentation and mitophagy. Bcl2-L-13 induces mitophagy in Atg32-deficient yeast cells. Induction and/or phosphorylation of Bcl2-L-13 may regulate its activity. Our findings offer insights into mitochondrial quality control in mammalian cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Dynamins
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases / genetics
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology
  • HEK293 Cells
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / genetics
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / physiology*
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / genetics
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / metabolism
  • Mitophagy / physiology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism*


  • BCL2L13 protein, human
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases
  • DNM1L protein, human
  • Dynamins