HUWE1 E3 ligase promotes PINK1/PARKIN-independent mitophagy by regulating AMBRA1 activation via IKKα

Anthea Di Rita, Angelo Peschiaroli, Pasquale D Acunzo, Daniela Strobbe, Zehan Hu, Jens Gruber, Mads Nygaard, Matteo Lambrughi, Gerry Melino, Elena Papaleo, Jörn Dengjel, Said El Alaoui, Michelangelo Campanella, Volker Dötsch, Vladimir V Rogov, Flavie Strappazzon, Francesco Cecconi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The selective removal of undesired or damaged mitochondria by autophagy, known as mitophagy, is crucial for cellular homoeostasis, and prevents tumour diffusion, neurodegeneration and ageing. The pro-autophagic molecule AMBRA1 (autophagy/beclin-1 regulator-1) has been defined as a novel regulator of mitophagy in both PINK1/PARKIN-dependent and -independent systems. Here, we identified the E3 ubiquitin ligase HUWE1 as a key inducing factor in AMBRA1-mediated mitophagy, a process that takes place independently of the main mitophagy receptors. Furthermore, we show that mitophagy function of AMBRA1 is post-translationally controlled, upon HUWE1 activity, by a positive phosphorylation on its serine 1014. This modification is mediated by the IKKα kinase and induces structural changes in AMBRA1, thus promoting its interaction with LC3/GABARAP (mATG8) proteins and its mitophagic activity. Altogether, these results demonstrate that AMBRA1 regulates mitophagy through a novel pathway, in which HUWE1 and IKKα are key factors, shedding new lights on the regulation of mitochondrial quality control and homoeostasis in mammalian cells.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 14 2018


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