A Conserved LIR Motif in Connexins Mediates Ubiquitin-Independent Binding to LC3/GABARAP Proteins

Steve Catarino, Teresa M Ribeiro-Rodrigues, Rita Sá Ferreira, José Ramalho, Christine Abert, Sascha Martens, Henrique Girão

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Abstract

Gap junctions (GJ) are specialized cell-cell contacts formed by connexins (Cxs), which provide direct communication between adjacent cells. Cx43 ubiquitination has been suggested to induce the internalization of GJs, as well as the recruitment of the autophagy receptor p62 to mediate binding to LC3B and degradation by macroautophagy. In this report, we describe a functional LC3 interacting region (LIR), present in the amino terminal of most Cx protein family members, which can mediate the autophagy degradation of Cx43 without the need of ubiquitin. Mutation of the LIR motif on Cx37, Cx43, Cx46 and Cx50 impairs interaction with LC3B and GABARAP without compromising protein ubiquitination. Through in vitro protein-protein interaction assays, we demonstrate that this LIR motif is required for the binding of Cx43 to LC3B and GABARAP. Overall, our findings describe an alternative mechanism whereby Cxs interact with LC3/GABARAP proteins, envisioning a new model for the autophagy degradation of connexins.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCells
Volume9
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2020

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Catarino, S., Ribeiro-Rodrigues, T. M., Sá Ferreira, R., Ramalho, J., Abert, C., Martens, S., & Girão, H. (2020). A Conserved LIR Motif in Connexins Mediates Ubiquitin-Independent Binding to LC3/GABARAP Proteins. Cells, 9(4). https://doi.org/10.3390/cells9040902