MAP4K3 mediates amino acid-dependent regulation of autophagy via phosphorylation of TFEB

Nat Commun. 2018 Mar 5;9(1):942. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-03340-7.


Autophagy is the major cellular pathway by which macromolecules are degraded, and amino acid depletion powerfully activates autophagy. MAP4K3, or germinal-center kinase-like kinase, is required for robust cell growth in response to amino acids, but the basis for MAP4K3 regulation of cellular metabolic disposition remains unknown. Here we identify MAP4K3 as an amino acid-dependent regulator of autophagy through its phosphorylation of transcription factor EB (TFEB), a transcriptional activator of autophagy, and through amino acid starvation-dependent lysosomal localization of MAP4K3. We document that MAP4K3 physically interacts with TFEB and MAP4K3 inhibition is sufficient for TFEB nuclear localization, target gene transactivation, and autophagy, even when mTORC1 is activated. Moreover, MAP4K3 serine 3 phosphorylation of TFEB is required for TFEB interaction with mTORC1-Rag GTPase-Ragulator complex and TFEB cytosolic sequestration. Our results uncover a role for MAP4K3 in the control of autophagy and reveal MAP4K3 as a central node in nutrient-sensing regulation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / metabolism*
  • Autophagy*
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Gene Knockout Techniques
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Lysosomes / metabolism
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1 / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Phosphorylation
  • Phosphoserine / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Transport
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Subcellular Fractions / metabolism


  • Amino Acids
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors
  • TFEB protein, human
  • Phosphoserine
  • MAP4K3 protein, human
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases