Imaging ATG9A, a multi-spanning membrane protein
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-23, 10:22 authored by Alexander R van Vliet, Stefano De Tito, Eugenia Almacellas, Sharon A Tooze
Autophagy is a highly conserved pathway that the cell uses to maintain homeostasis, degrade damaged organelles, combat invading pathogens, and survive pathological conditions. A set of proteins, called ATG proteins, comprise the core autophagy machinery and work together in a defined hierarchy. Studies in recent years have improved our knowledge of the autophagy pathway. Most recently, it has been proposed that ATG9A vesicles are at the heart of autophagy, as they control the rapid de novo synthesis of an organelle called the phagophore. The study of ATG9A has proven challenging, since ATG9A is a transmembrane protein, and it is present in different membrane compartments. As such, understanding its trafficking is an important element for understanding autophagy. Here, detailed methods are presented that can be used to study ATG9A and, in particular, its localization using immunofluorescence techniques, which can be assessed and quantified. The pitfalls of transient overexpression are also addressed. The correct characterization of ATG9A function and the standardization of techniques to analyze its trafficking are crucial to further characterize the events governing autophagy initiation.