Macroautophagy allows for bulk degradation of cytosolic components in lysosomes. Overexpression of GFP/RFP-LC3/GABARAP is commonly used to monitor autophagosomes, a hallmark of autophagy, despite artifacts related to their overexpression. Here, we developed new sensors that detect endogenous LC3/GABARAP proteins at the autophagosome using an LC3-interacting region (LIR) and a short hydrophobic domain (HyD). Among HyD-LIR-GFP sensors harboring LIR motifs of 34 known LC3-binding proteins, HyD-LIR(TP)-GFP using the LIR motif from TP53INP2 allowed detection of all LC3/GABARAPs-positive autophagosomes. However, HyD-LIR(TP)-GFP preferentially localized to GABARAP/GABARAPL1-positive autophagosomes in a LIR-dependent manner. In contrast, HyD-LIR(Fy)-GFP using the LIR motif from FYCO1 specifically detected LC3A/B-positive autophagosomes. HyD-LIR(TP)-GFP and HyD-LIR(Fy)-GFP efficiently localized to autophagosomes in the presence of endogenous LC3/GABARAP levels and without affecting autophagic flux. Both sensors also efficiently localized to MitoTracker-positive damaged mitochondria upon mitophagy induction. HyD-LIR(TP)-GFP allowed live-imaging of dynamic autophagosomes upon autophagy induction. These novel autophagosome sensors can thus be widely used in autophagy research.
Keywords: LC3‐interacting region motif; autophagosome sensor; autophagy; hydrophobic domain.
© 2017 The Authors.