ALFY localizes to early endosomes and cellular protrusions to facilitate directional cell migration

J Cell Sci. 2022 Feb 15;135(4):jcs259138. doi: 10.1242/jcs.259138. Epub 2022 Feb 18.


Cell migration is a complex process underlying physiological and pathological processes such as brain development and cancer metastasis. The autophagy-linked FYVE protein (ALFY; also known as WDFY3), an autophagy adaptor protein known to promote clearance of protein aggregates, has been implicated in brain development and neural migration during cerebral cortical neurogenesis in mice. However, a specific role of ALFY in cell motility and extracellular matrix adhesion during migration has not been investigated. Here, we reveal a novel role for ALFY in the endocytic pathway and in cell migration. We show that ALFY localizes to RAB5- and EEA1-positive early endosomes in a PtdIns(3)P-dependent manner and is highly enriched in cellular protrusions at the leading and lagging edge of migrating cells. We find that cells lacking ALFY have reduced attachment and altered protein levels and glycosylation of integrins, resulting in the inability to form a proper leading edge and loss of directional cell motility.

Keywords: ALFY; Endosome; Focal adhesion; Integrin; Migration; WDFY3.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Autophagy-Related Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Movement
  • Cell Surface Extensions* / metabolism
  • Endosomes / metabolism
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Mice


  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Autophagy-Related Proteins
  • WDFY3 protein, human