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LC3-positive structures are prominent in autophagy-deficient cells

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Stamatakou, Eleanna 
Siddiqi, Farah H. 
Puri, Claudia 
Zhu, Ye 


Abstract: Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved process across eukaryotes that degrades cargoes like aggregate-prone proteins, pathogens, damaged organelles and macromolecules via delivery to lysosomes. The process involves the formation of double-membraned autophagosomes that engulf the cargoes destined for degradation, sometimes with the help of autophagy receptors like p62, which are themselves autophagy substrates. LC3-II, a standard marker for autophagosomes, is generated by the conjugation of cytosolic LC3-I to phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) on the surface of nascent autophagosomes. As LC3-II is relatively specifically associated with autophagosomes and autolysosomes (in the absence of conditions stimulating LC3-associated phagocytosis), quantification of LC3-positive puncta is considered as a gold-standard assay for assessing the numbers of autophagosomes in cells. Here we find that the endogenous LC3-positive puncta become larger in cells where autophagosome formation is abrogated, and are prominent even when LC3-II is not formed. This occurs even with transient and incomplete inhibition of autophagosome biogenesis. This phenomenon is due to LC3-I sequestration to p62 aggregates, which accumulate when autophagy is impaired. This observation questions the reliability of LC3-immunofluorescence assays in cells with compromised autophagy.



Article, /631/2373, /631/80/39/2346, /13, /13/1, /14, /14/19, article

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Scientific Reports

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Nature Publishing Group UK