Research ArticleCELL BIOLOGY

RAB7A phosphorylation by TBK1 promotes mitophagy via the PINK-PARKIN pathway

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Science Advances  21 Nov 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 11, eaav0443
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav0443


Removal of damaged mitochondria is orchestrated by a pathway involving the PINK1 kinase and the PARKIN ubiquitin ligase. Ubiquitin chains assembled by PARKIN on the mitochondrial outer membrane recruit autophagy cargo receptors in complexes with TBK1 protein kinase. While TBK1 is known to phosphorylate cargo receptors to promote ubiquitin binding, it is unknown whether TBK1 phosphorylates other proteins to promote mitophagy. Using global quantitative proteomics, we identified S72 in RAB7A, a RAB previously linked with mitophagy, as a dynamic target of TBK1 upon mitochondrial depolarization. TBK1 directly phosphorylates RAB7AS72, but not several other RABs known to be phosphorylated on the homologous residue by LRRK2, in vitro, and this modification requires PARKIN activity in vivo. Interaction proteomics using nonphosphorylatable and phosphomimetic RAB7A mutants revealed loss of association of RAB7AS72E with RAB GDP dissociation inhibitor and increased association with the DENN domain–containing heterodimer FLCN-FNIP1. FLCN-FNIP1 is recruited to damaged mitochondria, and this process is inhibited in cells expressing RAB7AS72A. Moreover, nonphosphorylatable RAB7A failed to support efficient mitophagy, as well as recruitment of ATG9A-positive vesicles to damaged mitochondria. These data reveal a novel function for TBK1 in mitophagy, which parallels that of LRRK2-mediated phosphorylation of the homologous site in distinct RABs to control membrane trafficking.

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