Modulation of serines 17 and 24 in the LC3-interacting region of Bnip3 determines pro-survival mitophagy versus apoptosis

Yanyan Zhu, Stefan Massen, Marco Terenzio, Verena Lang, Silu Chen-Lindner, Roland Eils, Ivana Novak, Ivan Dikic, Anne Hamacher-Brady, Nathan R. Brady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

214 Scopus citations


BH3-only proteins integrate apoptosis and autophagy pathways, yet regulation and functional consequences of pathway cross-talk are not fully resolved. The BH3-only protein Bnip3 is an autophagy receptor that signals autophagic degradation of mitochondria (mitophagy) via interaction of its LC3-interacting region (LIR) with Atg8 proteins. Here we report that phosphorylation of serine residues 17 and 24 flanking the Bnip3 LIR promotes binding to specific Atg8 members LC3B and GATE-16. Using quantitative multispectral image-based flow cytometry, we demonstrate that enhancing Bnip3-Atg8 interactions via phosphorylation-mimicked LIR mutations increased mitochondrial sequestration, lysosomal delivery, and degradation. Importantly, mitochondria were targeted by mitophagy prior to cytochrome c release, resulting in reduced cellular cytochrome c release capacity. Intriguingly, pro-survival Bcl-xL positively regulated Bnip3 binding to LC3B, sequestration, and mitochondrial autophagy, further supporting an anti-apoptotic role for Bnip3-induced mitophagy. The ensemble of these results demonstrates that the phosphorylation state of the Bnip3 LIR signals either the induction of apoptosis or pro-survival mitophagy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1099-1113
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 11 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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