The GABARAPL1 protein belongs to the ATG8 family whose members are involved in autophagy. Our laboratory previously demonstrated that GABARAPL1 associates with autophagic vesicles, regulates autophagic flux and acts as a tumor suppressor protein in breast cancer. In this study, we aimed to determine whether GABARAPL1 conjugation to autophagosomes is necessary for its tumor suppressive functions using the MCF-7 breast cancer cell line overexpressing GABARAPL1 or a G116A mutant, which is unable to be lipidated and associated to autophagosomes. We show that the G116A mutation impaired GABARAPL1 function in autophagosome/lysosome fusion and inhibited lysosome activity but did not alter MTOR and ULK1 activities or tumor growth in vivo. Our results demonstrate for the first time that GABARAPL1 plays different regulatory functions during early and late stages of autophagy, independently or not of its conjugation to autophagosomes, but its tumor suppressive function appeared to be independent of its conjugation to autophagic vesicles.
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