AlphaFold2-multimer guided high-accuracy prediction of typical and atypical ATG8-binding motifs

Tarhan Ibrahim, Virendrasinh Khandare, Federico Gabriel Mirkin, Yasin Tumtas, Doryen Bubeck*, Tolga O. Bozkurt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


AU Macroautophagy/autophagy: Pleaseconfirmthatallheadinglevelsarerepresentedcorrectly is an intracellular degradation process : central to cellular homeostasis and defense against pathogens in eukaryotic cells. Regulation of autophagy relies on hierarchical binding of autophagy cargo receptors and adaptors to ATG8/LC3 protein family members. Interactions with ATG8/LC3 are typically facilitated by a conserved, short linear sequence, referred to as the ATG8/LC3 interacting motif/region (AIM/LIR), present in autophagy adaptors and receptors as well as pathogen virulence factors targeting host autophagy machinery. Since the canonical AIM/LIR sequence can be found in many proteins, identifying functional AIM/LIR motifs has proven challenging. Here, we show that protein modelling using Alphafold-Multimer (AF2-multimer) identifies both canonical and atypical AIM/LIR motifs with a high level of accuracy. AF2-multimer can be modified to detect additional functional AIM/LIR motifs by using protein sequences with mutations in primary AIM/LIR residues. By combining protein modelling data from AF2-multimer with phylogenetic analysis of protein sequences and protein–protein interaction assays, we demonstrate that AF2-multimer predicts the physiologically relevant AIM motif in the ATG8-interacting protein 2 (ATI-2) as well as the previously uncharacterized noncanonical AIM motif in ATG3 from potato (Solanum tuberosum). AF2-multimer also identified the AIM/LIR motifs in pathogen-encoded virulence factors that target ATG8 members in their plant and human hosts, revealing that cross-kingdom ATG8-LIR/AIM associations can also be predicted by AF2-multimer. We conclude that the AF2-guided discovery of autophagy adaptors/receptors will substantially accelerate our understanding of the molecular basis of autophagy in all biological kingdoms.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere3001962
JournalPloS Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2023


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