Autophagosomal YKT6 is required for fusion with lysosomes independently of syntaxin 17

Macroautophagy is an evolutionarily conserved catabolic mechanism that delivers intracellular constituents to lysosomes using autophagosomes. To achieve degradation, lysosomes must fuse with closed autophagosomes. We previously reported that the soluble N-ethylmaleimide–sensitive factor attachment protein receptor (SNARE) protein syntaxin (STX) 17 translocates to autophagosomes to mediate fusion with lysosomes. In this study, we report an additional mechanism. We found that autophagosome–lysosome fusion is retained to some extent even in STX17 knockout (KO) HeLa cells. By screening other human SNAREs, we identified YKT6 as a novel autophagosomal SNARE protein. Depletion of YKT6 inhibited autophagosome–lysosome fusion partially in wild-type and completely in STX17 KO cells, suggesting that YKT6 and STX17 are independently required for fusion. YKT6 formed a SNARE complex with SNAP29 and lysosomal STX7, both of which are required for autophagosomal fusion. Recruitment of YKT6 to autophagosomes depends on its N-terminal longin domain but not on the C-terminal palmitoylation and farnesylation that are essential for its Golgi localization. These findings suggest that two independent SNARE complexes mediate autophagosome–lysosome fusion.

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