Mitophagy, the selective removal of damaged or excess mitochondria by autophagy, is an important process in cellular homeostasis. The outer mitochondrial membrane (OMM) proteins NIX, BNIP3, FUNDC1, and Bcl2-L13 recruit ATG8 proteins (LC3/GABARAP) to mitochondria during mitophagy. FKBP8 (also known as FKBP38), a unique member of the FK506-binding protein (FKBP) family, is similarly anchored in the OMM and acts as a multifunctional adaptor with anti-apoptotic activity. In a yeast two-hybrid screen, we identified FKBP8 as an ATG8-interacting protein. Here, we map an N-terminal LC3-interacting region (LIR) motif in FKBP8 that binds strongly to LC3A both in vitro and in vivo FKBP8 efficiently recruits lipidated LC3A to damaged mitochondria in a LIR-dependent manner. The mitophagy receptors BNIP3 and NIX in contrast are unable to mediate an efficient recruitment of LC3A even after mitochondrial damage. Co-expression of FKBP8 with LC3A profoundly induces Parkin-independent mitophagy. Strikingly, even when acting as a mitophagy receptor, FKBP8 avoids degradation by escaping from mitochondria. In summary, this study identifies novel roles for FKBP8 and LC3A, which act together to induce mitophagy.
Keywords: FKBP38; FKBP8; LC3A; autophagy; mitophagy.
© 2017 The Authors.