NRBF2 regulates autophagy and prevents liver injury by modulating Atg14L-linked phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase III activity

Jiahong Lu, Liqiang He, Christian Behrends, Masatake Araki, Kimi Araki, Qing Jun Wang, Joseph M. Catanzaro, Scott L. Friedman, Wei Xing Zong, M. Isabel Fiel, Min Li, Zhenyu Yue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


The Beclin 1-Vps34 complex, the core component of the class III phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI3K-III), binds Atg14L or UVRAG to control different steps of autophagy. However, the mechanism underlying the control of PI3K-III activity remains elusive. Here we report the identification of NRBF2 as a component in the specific PI3K-III complex and a modulator of PI3K-III activity. Through its microtubule interaction and trafficking (MIT) domain, NRBF2 binds Atg14L directly and enhances Atg14L-linked Vps34 kinase activity and autophagy induction. NRBF2-deficient cells exhibit enhanced vulnerability to endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress that is reversed by re-introducing exogenous NRBF2. NRBF2-deficient mice develop focal liver necrosis and ductular reaction, accompanied by impaired Atg14L-linked Vps34 activity and autophagy, although the mice show no increased mortality. Our data reveal a key role for NRBF2 in the assembly of the specific Atg14L-Beclin 1-Vps34-Vps15 complex for autophagy induction. Thus, NRBF2 modulates autophagy via regulation of PI3K-III and prevents ER stress-mediated cytotoxicity and liver injury.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3920
JournalNature Communications
StatePublished - May 22 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by National Institutes of Health grants (NIH-R01NS060123) to Z.Y. We thank T. Johansen from The University of Tromsø for mCherry–EGFP–LC3B plasmid; J. Jung from University of Southern California for Flag-UVRAG plasmid; K. Kelley from Mount Sinai mouse genetics core facility for help with embryonic stem cells microinjection; R. Huq and L. O’Rourke from Mount Sinai microscopy core facility; W. Janssen from the Mount Sinai Friedman Brain Institute core facility for help with microscopy; and N. McKnight of the Yue lab for critical reading. We thank T.H. Thin from the immunohistochemistry core of the histology shared resource facility and M. Castillo-Martin from the Department of Pathology at Mount Sinai Hospital for their help with mice tissue immunohistochemistry; and Y. Ge from neurology department, N. Shao from neuroscience department of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Q. Lin and Q. Wang from School of public health, Central South University for their assistance with statistical analysis. We specially thank Ms Lorreta Ho for her generous financial support to the postdoctoral fellowship of J.L.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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