ATG14 binding to BECN/Beclin homologs is essential for autophagy, a critical catabolic homeostasis pathway. Here, we show that the α-helical, coiled-coil domain (CCD) of BECN2, a recently identified mammalian BECN1 paralog, forms an antiparallel, curved homodimer with seven pairs of nonideal packing interactions, while the BECN2 CCD and ATG14 CCD form a parallel, curved heterodimer stabilized by multiple, conserved polar interactions. Compared to BECN1, the BECN2 CCD forms a weaker homodimer, but binds more tightly to the ATG14 CCD. Mutation of nonideal BECN2 interface residues to more ideal pairs improves homodimer self-association and thermal stability. Unlike BECN1, all BECN2 CCD mutants bind ATG14, although more weakly than wild type. Thus, polar BECN2 CCD interface residues result in a metastable homodimer, facilitating dissociation, but enable better interactions with polar ATG14 residues stabilizing the BECN2:ATG14 heterodimer. These structure-based mechanistic differences in BECN1 and BECN2 homodimerization and heterodimerization likely dictate competitive ATG14 recruitment.
Keywords: ATG14; BECN2; BECN2:ATG14 heterodimer; autophagy; coiled-coil domain.
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