The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is the site of biogenesis of the isolation membrane (IM, autophagosome precursor) and forms extensive contacts with IMs during their expansion into double-membrane autophagosomes. Little is known about the molecular mechanism underlying the formation and/or maintenance of the ER/IM contact. The integral ER proteins VAPA and VAPB (VAPs) participate in establishing ER contacts with multiple membranes by interacting with different tethers. Here, we demonstrate that VAPs also modulate ER/IM contact formation. Depletion of VAPs impairs progression of IMs into autophagosomes. Upon autophagy induction, VAPs are recruited to autophagosome formation sites on the ER, a process mediated by their interactions with FIP200 and PI(3)P. VAPs directly interact with FIP200 and ULK1 through their conserved FFAT motifs and stabilize the ULK1/FIP200 complex at the autophagosome formation sites on the ER. The formation of ULK1 puncta is significantly reduced by VAPA/B depletion. VAPs also interact with WIPI2 and enhance the formation of the WIPI2/FIP200 ER/IM tethering complex. Depletion of VMP1, which increases the ER/IM contact, greatly elevates the interaction of VAPs with these autophagy proteins. The VAPB P56S mutation, which is associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, reduces the ULK1/FIP200 interaction and impairs autophagy at an early step, similar to the effect seen in VAPA/B-depleted cells. Our study reveals that VAPs directly interact with multiple ATG proteins, thereby contributing to ER/IM contact formation for autophagosome biogenesis. Zhao et al. demonstrate that the ER-localized proteins VAPA and VAPB participate in ER/isolation membrane contact formation for autophagosome biogenesis. VAPA/B interact with FIP200 and ULK1 through their FFAT motifs to facilitate assembly of the autophagy initiation complex on the ER.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Neuroscience
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
- General Agricultural and Biological Sciences