Upstream open reading frames mediate autophagy-related protein translation

Ying Yang, Damián Gatica, Xu Liu, Runliu Wu, Rui Kang, Daolin Tang, Daniel J. Klionsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Macroautophagy/autophagy, a highly conserved catabolic pathway that maintains proper cellular homeostasis is stringently regulated by numerous autophagy-related (Atg) proteins. Many studies have investigated autophagy regulation at the transcriptional level; however, relatively little is known about translational control. Here, we report the upstream open reading frame (uORF)-mediated translational control of multiple Atg proteins in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and in human cells. The translation of several essential autophagy regulators in yeast, including Atg13, is suppressed by canonical uORFs under nutrient-rich conditions, and is activated during nitrogen-starvation conditions. We also found that the predicted human ATG4B and ATG12 non-canonical uORFs suppress downstream coding sequence translation. These results demonstrate that uORF-mediated translational control is a widely used mechanism among ATG genes from yeast to human and suggest a model for how some ATG genes bypass the general translational suppression that occurs under stress conditions to maintain a proper level of autophagy. Abbreviations: 5’ UTR, 5’ untranslated region; Atg, autophagy-related; CDS, coding sequence; Cvt, cytoplasm-to-vacuole targeting; HBSS, Hanks’ balanced salt solution; PA, protein A; PE, phosphati-dylethanolamine; PIC, preinitiation complex; PtdIns3K, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase; qRT-PCR, quantitative reverse transcription PCR; Ubl, ubiquitin-like; uORF, upstream open reading frame; WT, wild-type.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Autophagy
  • human
  • lysosome
  • stress
  • translational regulation
  • vacuole
  • yeast

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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