Beyond Autophagy: The Expanding Roles of ATG8 Proteins

Trends Biochem Sci. 2021 Aug;46(8):673-686. doi: 10.1016/j.tibs.2021.01.004. Epub 2021 Feb 5.


The ATG8 family proteins are critical players in autophagy, a cytoprotective process that mediates degradation of cytosolic cargo. During autophagy, ATG8s conjugate to autophagosome membranes to facilitate cargo recruitment, autophagosome biogenesis, transport, and fusion with lysosomes, for cargo degradation. In addition to these canonical functions, recent reports demonstrate that ATG8s are also delivered to single-membrane organelles, which leads to highly divergent degradative or secretory fates, vesicle maturation, and cargo specification. The association of ATG8s with different vesicles involves complex regulatory mechanisms still to be fully elucidated. Whether individual ATG8 family members play unique canonical or non-canonical roles, also remains unclear. This review summarizes the many open molecular questions regarding ATG8s that are only beginning to be unraveled.

Keywords: GABARAP; LC3; LC3-associated phagocytosis; multivesicular bodies; non-canonical autophagy; unconventional secretion.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Autophagosomes
  • Autophagy*
  • Autophagy-Related Protein 8 Family
  • Autophagy-Related Proteins
  • Lysosomes
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins*


  • Autophagy-Related Protein 8 Family
  • Autophagy-Related Proteins
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins