­­Atg9 interactions via its transmembrane domains are required for phagophore expansion during autophagy

Sabrina Chumpen Ramirez, Rubén Gómez-Sánchez, Pauline Verlhac, Ralph Hardenberg, Eleonora Margheritis, Katia Cosentino, Fulvio Reggiori*, Christian Ungermann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
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During macroautophagy/autophagy, precursor cisterna known as phagophores expand and sequester portions of the cytoplasm and/or organelles, and subsequently close resulting in double-membrane transport vesicles called autophagosomes. Autophagosomes fuse with lysosomes/vacuoles to allow the degradation and recycling of their cargoes. We previously showed that sequential binding of yeast Atg2 and Atg18 to Atg9, the only conserved transmembrane protein in autophagy, at the extremities of the phagophore mediates the establishment of membrane contact sites between the phagophore and the endoplasmic reticulum. As the Atg2-Atg18 complex transfers lipids between adjacent membranes in vitro, it has been postulated that this activity and the scramblase activity of the trimers formed by Atg9 are required for the phagophore expansion. Here, we present evidence that Atg9 indeed promotes Atg2-Atg18 complex-mediated lipid transfer in vitro, although this is not the only requirement for its function in vivo. In particular, we show that Atg9 function is dramatically compromised by a F627A mutation within the conserved interface between the transmembrane domains of the Atg9 monomers. Although Atg9F627A self-interacts and binds to the Atg2-Atg18 complex, the F627A mutation blocks the phagophore expansion and thus autophagy progression. This phenotype is conserved because the corresponding human ATG9A mutant severely impairs autophagy as well. Importantly, Atg9F627A has identical scramblase activity in vitro like Atg9, and as with the wild-type protein enhances Atg2-Atg18-mediated lipid transfer. Collectively, our data reveal that interactions of Atg9 trimers via their transmembrane segments play a key role in phagophore expansion beyond Atg9ʹs role as a lipid scramblase.Abbreviations: BafA1: bafilomycin A1; Cvt: cytoplasm-to-vacuole targeting; Cryo-EM: cryo-electron microscopy; ER: endoplasmic reticulum; GFP: green fluorescent protein; MAP1LC3/LC3: microtubule associated protein 1 light chain 3; MCS: membrane contact site; NBD-PE: N-(7-nitrobenz-2-oxa-1,3-diazol-4-yl)-1,2-dihexadecanoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine; PAS: phagophore assembly site; PE: phosphatidylethanolamine; prApe1: precursor Ape1; PtdIns3P: phosphatidylinositol-3-phosphate; SLB: supported lipid bilayer; SUV: small unilamellar vesicle; TMD: transmembrane domain; WT: wild type.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1459-1478
Number of pages20
Issue number5
Early online date10-Nov-2022
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Autophagosome
  • lipid transfer
  • membrane contact site
  • phagophore
  • scramblase

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