Annexins are a family of proteins that bind phospholipids in a calcium-dependent manner. Analysis of the sequences of the different members of the annexin family revealed the presence of a pentapeptide biochemically related to KFERQ in some annexins but not in others. Such sequences have been proposed to be a targeting sequence for chaperone-mediated autophagy, a lysosomal pathway of protein degradation that is activated in confluent cells in response to removal of serum growth factors. We demonstrate that annexins II and VI, which contain KFERQ-like sequences, are degraded more rapidly in response to serum withdrawal, while annexins V and XI, without such sequences, are degraded at the same rate in the presence and absence of serum. Using isolated lysosomes, only the annexins containing KFERQ-like sequences are degraded by chaperone mediated-autophagy. Annexins V and XI could associate with lysosomes but did not enter the lysosomes and were not proteolytic substrates. Furthermore, four annexins containing KFERQ-like sequences, annexins I, II, IV, and VI, are enriched in lysosomes with high chaperone-mediated autophagy activity as expected for substrafe proteins. These results provide striking evidence for the importance of KFERQ motifs in substrates of chaperone-mediated autophagy.
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