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ATG Genes Involved In Non-Selective Autophagy are Conserved from Yeast to Man, But the Selective Cvt and Pexophagy Pathways also Require Organism-Specific Genes

By Wiebe H. Meijer, Ida J. van der Klei, Marten Veenhuis and Jan A.K.W. Kiel


ATG genes encode proteins that are required for macroautophagy, the Cvt pathway and/or pexophagy. Using the published Atg protein sequences, we have screened protein and DNA databases to identify putative functional homologs (orthologs) in 21 fungal species (yeast and filamentous fungi) of which the genome sequences were available. For comparison with Atg proteins in higher eukaryotes, also an analysis of Arabidopsis thaliana and Homo sapiens databases was included. This analysis demonstrated that Atg proteins required for non-selective macroautophagy are conserved from yeast to man, stressing the importance of this process in cell survival and viability. The A. thaliana and human genomes encode multiple proteins highly similar to specific fungal Atg proteins (paralogs), possibly representing cell type-specific isoforms. The Atg proteins specifically involved in the Cvt pathway and/or pexophagy showed poor conservation, and were generally not present in A. thaliana and man. Furthermore, Atg19, the receptor of Cvt cargo, was only detected in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Nevertheless, Atg11, a protein that links receptor-bound cargo (peroxisomes, the Cvt complex) to the autophagic machinery was identified in all yeast species and filamentous fungi under study. This suggests that in fungi an organism-specific form of selective autophagy may occur, for which specialized Atg proteins have evolved.

Year: 2007
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