Alfy, a novel FYVE-domain-containing protein associated with protein granules and autophagic membranes.
Phosphatidylinositol-3-phosphate [PtdIns(3)P] regulates endocytic and autophagic membrane traffic. In order to understand the downstream effects of PtdIns(3)P in these processes, it is important to identify PtdIns(3)P-binding proteins, many of which contain FYVE zinc-finger domains. Here, we describe a novel giant FYVE-domain-containing protein, named autophagy-linked FYVE protein (Alfy). Alfy is ubiquitously expressed, shares sequence similarity with the Chediak-Higashi-syndrome protein and has putative homologues in flies, nematodes and fission yeast. Alfy binds PtdIns(3)P in vitro and partially colocalizes with PtdIns(3)P in vivo. Unlike most other FYVE-domain proteins, Alfy is not found on endosomes but instead localizes mainly to the nuclear envelope. When HeLa cells are starved or treated with a proteasome inhibitor, Alfy relocalizes to characteristic filamentous cytoplasmic structures located close to autophagic membranes and ubiquitin-containing protein aggregates. By electron microscopy, similar structures can be found within autophagosomes. We propose that Alfy might target cytosolic protein aggregates for autophagic degradation.