Autophagosomal content profiling reveals novel mitophagy pathway

16. Nov 2017

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Until now, little was known about the identity of proteins which are disposed via autophagy. In an unbiased approach to shed light on this conundrum, the Behrends group used a novel proteomics technology to selectively capture all cargo proteins carried by autophagosomes in living cells. The outcome was a long list of 1,147 proteins – amongst them numerous involved in mitochondrial function, a rather unexpected result considering that no treatment triggering mitophagy was applied. The researchers followed up on this and made a yet more surprising discovery: They found that proteins from several mitochondrial subcompartments are directed towards autophagosomes in a piecemeal fashion, meaning without degradation of the entire organelle. This establishes a novel mechanism of mitophagy, which may function to maintain the mitochondrial household under basal growth condition. The study was largely funded by the CRC 1177 ( and carried out at IBC2 and at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) München, to where the Behrends lab recently moved. The results are published in today’s issue of Molecular Cell.

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read more news Georg Speyer Haus Institut für Molekulare Biologie Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz The Max Planck Institute of Biophysics Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg