A novel, human Atg13 binding protein, Atg101, interacts with ULK1 and is essential for macroautophagy.

Article Details


Mercer CA, Kaliappan A, Dennis PB

A novel, human Atg13 binding protein, Atg101, interacts with ULK1 and is essential for macroautophagy.

Autophagy. 2009 Jul;5(5):649-62. Epub 2009 Jul 20.

PubMed ID
19287211 [ View in PubMed

Macroautophagy is an intracellular, vesicle-mediated mechanism for the sequestration and ultimate lysosomal degradation of cytoplasmic proteins, organelles and macromolecules. The macroautophagy process and many of the autophagy-specific (Atg) proteins are remarkably well conserved in higher eukaryotes. In yeast, the Atg1 kinase complex includes Atg1, Atg13, Atg17, and at least four other interacting proteins, some of which are phosphorylated in a TOR-dependent manner, placing the Atg1 signaling complex downstream of a major nutrient-sensing pathway. Atg1 orthologs, including mammalian unc-51-like kinase 1 (ULK1), have been identified in higher eukaryotes and have been functionally linked to autophagy. This suggests that other components of the Atg1 complex exist in higher eukaryotes. Recently, a putative human Atg13 ortholog, FLJ20698, was identified by gapped-BLAST analysis. We show here that FLJ20698 (Atg13) is a ULK1-interacting phosphoprotein that is essential for macroautophagy. Furthermore, we identify a novel, human Atg13-interacting protein, FLJ11773, which we have termed Atg101. Atg101 is essential for autophagy and interacts with ULK1 in an Atg13-dependent manner. Additionally, we present evidence that intracellular localization of the ULK1 complex is regulated by nutrient conditions. Finally, we demonstrate that Atg101 stabilizes the expression of Atg13 in the cell, suggesting that Atg101 contributes to Atg13 function by protecting Atg13 from proteasomal degradation. Therefore, the identification of the novel protein, Atg101, and the validation of Atg13 and Atg101 as ULK1-interacting proteins, suggests an Atg1 complex is involved in the induction of macroautophagy in mammalian cells.

DrugBank Data that Cites this Article

NameUniProt ID
Serine/threonine-protein kinase ULK1O75385Details