A single protease, Apg4B, is specific for the autophagy-related ubiquitin-like proteins GATE-16, MAP1-LC3, GABARAP, and Apg8L.
Hemelaar J., Lelyveld VS., Kessler BM., Ploegh HL.
Apg8 is a ubiquitin-like protein involved in autophagy in yeast. Apg8 is covalently but transiently attached to membrane lipids through the actions of activating, conjugating, and processing/deconjugating enzymes. The mammalian Apg8 homologues GATE-16, GARARAP, and MAP1-LC3 have been implicated in intra-Golgi transport, receptor sorting, and autophagy, respectively. All are served by a single set of activating and conjugating enzymes. Here we identify a novel mammalian Apg8 homologue, which we name Apg8L, and describe the synthesis of electrophilic probes based on the GATE-16, GARARAP, MAP1-LC3, and Apg8L proteins. These probes not only form specific adducts in crude cell lysates, but also allow identification of the cellular proteases specific for the C termini of these Apg8 homologues. We find a single protease, Apg4B/autophagin-1, capable of acting on GATE-16, GABARAP, MAP1-LC3, and Apg8L. The Apg4B/autophagin-1 protease thus serves as a processing/deconjugating enzyme for these four highly divergent mammalian Apg8 homologues.