Process of macroautophagy (hereafter referred as autophagy) includes nucleation, expansion, and endosomal fusion steps of a double membrane vesicle formation – autophagosome. Errors in maturation steps have been reported to cause cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases, cancer and lysosomal storage disorders. Central to the autophagy pathway regulation are so-called molecular “traffic lights” – Rab GTPases (Rab) and SNAREs. In recent years, studies brought clarity to the autophagosomes maturation in autophagy. In our group, we focus on fundamental questions in the field of selective autophagy. What are the regulating factors and how they mediate autophagosomal formation and fusion with early endocytic vesicles? Are the same set of Rab and SNARE proteins required for regulation of the same steps in different types of selective autophagy? How is the fusion of autophagosomes with other vesicles prevented? We already showed how Rab7 modulates autophagy pathway through binding to LC3 and GABARAP family members via PLEKHM1 and TBC1D5 (McEwan et al., 2015; Popovic & Dikic, 2014). We are currently focusing on understanding the complex cross-talk between TBC proteins, Rabs and autophagy proteins, as well as compartmentalization throughout the pathway, implementing functional cell-based assays, biochemical analysis and high-resolution, as well as high-throughput microscopy.


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