Phosphorylation of OPTN by TBK1 enhances its binding to Ub chains and promotes selective autophagy of damaged mitochondria

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Apr 12;113(15):4039-44. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1523926113. Epub 2016 Mar 30.


Selective autophagy of damaged mitochondria requires autophagy receptors optineurin (OPTN), NDP52 (CALCOCO2), TAX1BP1, and p62 (SQSTM1) linking ubiquitinated cargo to autophagic membranes. By using quantitative proteomics, we show that Tank-binding kinase 1 (TBK1) phosphorylates all four receptors on several autophagy-relevant sites, including the ubiquitin- and LC3-binding domains of OPTN and p62/SQSTM1 as well as the SKICH domains of NDP52 and TAX1BP1. Constitutive interaction of TBK1 with OPTN and the ability of OPTN to bind to ubiquitin chains are essential for TBK1 recruitment and kinase activation on mitochondria. TBK1 in turn phosphorylates OPTN's UBAN domain at S473, thereby expanding the binding capacity of OPTN to diverse Ub chains. In combination with phosphorylation of S177 and S513, this posttranslational modification promotes recruitment and retention of OPTN/TBK1 on ubiquitinated, damaged mitochondria. Moreover, phosphorylation of OPTN on S473 enables binding to pS65 Ub chains and is also implicated in PINK1-driven and Parkin-independent mitophagy. Thus, TBK1-mediated phosphorylation of autophagy receptors creates a signal amplification loop operating in selective autophagy of damaged mitochondria.

Keywords: OPTN; TBK1; mitophagy; phosphorylation; ubiquitin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Autophagy*
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Transcription Factor TFIIIA / metabolism*
  • Ubiquitin / metabolism


  • OPTN protein, human
  • Transcription Factor TFIIIA
  • Ubiquitin
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • TBK1 protein, human