Autophagosomes are double-membraned vesicles with cytosolic components. Their destination is to fuse with the lysosome to degrade the enclosed cargo. However, autophagosomes may be fused with other membrane compartments and possibly misguided by the RAB molecules from these compartments. The mechanisms ensuring the proper trafficking are not well understood. Yeast ATG8 and its mammalian homologues are critically involved in the autophagosome formation and expansion. We hypothesized that they could be also involved in the regulation of autophagosome trafficking. Using the yeast two-hybrid system, we found that TBC1D9B, a GTPase activating protein for RAB11A, interacted with LC3B. TBC1D9B could also interact with other mammalian ATG8 homologues. This interaction was confirmed with purified proteins in vitro, and by co-immunoprecipitation in vivo. The interacting domain of TBC1D9B with LC3 was further determined, which is unique and different from the known LC3-interacting region previously defined in other LC3-interacting molecules. Functionally, TBC1D9B could be co-localized with LC3B on the autophagosome membranes. Inhibition of TBC1D9B suppressed the turnover of membrane-bound LC3B and the autophagic degradation of long-lived proteins. TBC1D9B can thus positively regulate autophagic flux, possibly through its GTPase activity to inactivate RAB11A, facilitating the proper destination of the autophagosomes to the degradation.
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