The ingenious ULKs: expanding the repertoire of the ULK complex with phosphoproteomics.
journal contributionposted on 11.01.2022, 11:24 by Thomas J Mercer, Sharon A Tooze
The mammalian ULK kinase complex is the most upstream component in the macroautophagy/autophagy signaling pathway. ULK1 and homolog ULK2, the sole serine/threonine kinases in autophagy, transduce an array of autophagy-inducing stimuli to downstream autophagic machinery, regulating autophagy from autophagosome initiation to fusion of autophagosomes with lysosomes. ULK signaling is also implicated in a diverse array of non-canonical processes from necroptosis to ER-Golgi trafficking to stress granule clearance. However, the exact mechanisms by which ULK regulates these diverse processes remain largely unknown. Most notably, the number of validated ULK substrates is surprisingly low. Our study identifies new ULK substrates from a wide array of protein families and signaling pathways and supports an expanded range of physiological roles for the ULKs. We further characterize several new substrates, including the PIK3C3/VPS34-containing complex subunit PIK3R4/VPS15 and the AMPK component PRKAG2. Finally, by analyzing PIK3R4/VPS15-deficient models we discover novel aspects of ULK signaling with potential relevance in selective autophagy.