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Mammalian phagophores with finger-like shapes emerge from recycling endosomes

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Puri, Claudia 
Rubinsztein, David C  ORCID logo


Autophagosomes are double-membraned vesicles that engulf cytoplasmic contents, which are ultimately degraded after autophagosome-lysosome fusion. The prevailing view, largely inferred from EM-based studies, was that mammalian autophagosomes evolved from disc-shaped precursors that invaginated and then were closed at the single opening. Many site(s) of origin of these precursors have been proposed. Using superresolution structured illumination microscopy and electron microscopy, we find that mammalian autophagosomes derive from finger-like outgrowths from the recycling endosome. These “fingers” survey a large cell volume and then close into a “fist” and the openings are sealed in an ESCRT-dependent fashion, while the precursors are still attached to the recycling endosome. We call this transient recycling endosome-attached, closed, autophagic structure an “autophago-dome”. DNM2-dependent scission of the autophago-dome from the recycling endosomes liberates free autophagosomes from this compartment. These data reveal unexpected morphologies of autophagosome precursors and raise new questions about the control of this process.



Autophagy, ESCRT, RAB11, phagophore, recycling endosome, Endosomes, Autophagosomes, Animals, Humans, Autophagy, Mammals, Phagosomes, HeLa Cells, Endosomal Sorting Complexes Required for Transport, Lysosomes

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Taylor and Francis
UK Dementia Research Institute (Unknown)
Funding for this study was obtained from the UK Dementia Research Institute (funded by the MRC, Alzheimer’s Research UK and the Alzheimer’s Society) and the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre (NIHR203312).