ATG9B is a tissue-specific homotrimeric lipid scramblase that can compensate for ATG9A

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Abstract

Macroautophagy/autophagy is a fundamental aspect of eukaryotic biology, and the autophagy-related protein ATG9A is part of the core machinery facilitating this process. In addition to ATG9A vertebrates encode ATG9B, a poorly characterized paralog expressed in a subset of tissues. Herein, we characterize the structure of human ATG9B revealing the conserved homotrimeric quaternary structure and explore the conformational dynamics of the protein. Consistent with the experimental structure and computational chemistry, we establish that ATG9B is a functional lipid scramblase. We show that ATG9B can compensate for the absence of ATG9A in starvation-induced autophagy displaying similar subcellular trafficking and steady-state localization. Finally, we demonstrate that ATG9B can form a heteromeric complex with ATG2A. By establishing the molecular structure and function of ATG9B, our results inform the exploration of niche roles for autophagy machinery in more complex eukaryotes and reveal insights relevant across species.