Systematic Analysis of Human Cells Lacking ATG8 Proteins Uncovers Roles for GABARAPs and the CCZ1/MON1 Regulator C18orf8/RMC1 in Macroautophagic and Selective Autophagic Flux

Mol Cell Biol. 2017 Dec 13;38(1):e00392-17. doi: 10.1128/MCB.00392-17. Print 2018 Jan 1.


Selective autophagy and macroautophagy sequester specific organelles/substrates or bulk cytoplasm, respectively, inside autophagosomes as cargo for delivery to lysosomes. The mammalian ATG8 orthologues (MAP1LC3A/B/C and GABARAP/L1/L2) are ubiquitin (UB)-like proteins conjugated to the autophagosome membrane and are thought to facilitate cargo receptor recruitment, vesicle maturation, and lysosomal fusion. To elucidate the molecular functions of the ATG8 proteins, we engineered cells lacking genes for each subfamily as well as all six mammalian ATG8s. Loss of GABARAPs alone attenuates autophagic flux basally and in response to macroautophagic or selective autophagic stimuli, including parkin-dependent mitophagy, and cells lacking all ATG8 proteins accumulate cytoplasmic UB aggregates, which are resolved following ectopic expression of individual GABARAPs. Autophagosomes from cells lacking GABARAPs had reduced lysosomal content by quantitative proteomics, consistent with fusion defects, but accumulated regulators of late endosome (LE)/autophagosome maturation. Through interaction proteomics of proteins accumulating in GABARAP/L1/L2-deficient cells, we identified C18orf8/RMC1 as a new subunit of the CCZ1-MON1 RAB7 guanine exchange factor (GEF) that positively regulates RAB7 recruitment to LE/autophagosomes. This work defines unique roles for GABARAP and LC3 subfamilies in macroautophagy and selective autophagy and demonstrates how analysis of autophagic machinery in the absence of flux can identify new regulatory circuits.

Keywords: ATG8; autophagosome maturation; macroautophagy; mitophagy; selective autophagy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing / metabolism*
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • Autophagy / physiology*
  • Autophagy-Related Protein 8 Family / deficiency*
  • Autophagy-Related Protein 8 Family / genetics
  • Autophagy-Related Protein 8 Family / metabolism
  • Guanine Nucleotide Exchange Factors / metabolism
  • HEK293 Cells
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Lysosomes / metabolism
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / metabolism*
  • rab GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • rab7 GTP-Binding Proteins


  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • Autophagy-Related Protein 8 Family
  • GABARAP protein, human
  • GABARAPL2 protein, human
  • Guanine Nucleotide Exchange Factors
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • rab7 GTP-Binding Proteins
  • rab7 GTP-binding proteins, human
  • rab GTP-Binding Proteins