Beclin 2 plays a critical role in metabolic regulation and obesity, but its functions in innate immune signaling and cancer development remain largely unknown. Here, we identified Beclin 2 as a critical negative regulator of inflammation and lymphoma development. Mice with homozygous ablation of BCL2-interacting protein 2 (Becn2) developed splenomegaly and lymphadenopathy and markedly increased ERK1/2 and NF-κB signaling for proinflammatory cytokine production. Beclin 2 targeted the key signaling kinases MEKK3 and TAK1 for degradation through an ATG9A-dependent, but ATG16L/Beclin 1/LC3–independent, autophagic pathway. Mechanistically, Beclin 2 recruited MEKK3 or TAK1 through ATG9A to form a complex (Beclin 2-ATG9A-MEKK3) on ATG9A+ vesicles upon ULK1 activation. Beclin 2 further interacted with STX5 and STX6 to promote the fusion of MEKK3- or TAK1-associated ATG9A+ vesicles to phagophores for subsequent degradation. Importantly, Becn2-deficient mice had a markedly increased incidence of lymphoma development, with persistent STAT3 activation. Myeloid-specific ablation of MEKK3 (Map3k3) completely rescued the phenotypes (splenomegaly, higher amounts of proinflammatory cytokines, and cancer incidence) of Becn2-deficient mice. Hence, our findings have identified an important role of Beclin 2 in the negative regulation of innate immune signaling and tumor development through an ATG9A-dependent, but ATG16L/Beclin 1/LC3–independent, autophagic pathway, thus providing a potential target for the treatment of inflammatory diseases and cancer.
Motao Zhu, Guangtong Deng, Peng Tan, Changsheng Xing, Cuiping Guan, Chongming Jiang, Yinlong Zhang, Bo Ning, Chaoran Li, Bingnan Yin, Kaifu Chen, Yuliang Zhao, Helen Y. Wang, Beth Levine, Guangjun Nie, Rong-Fu Wang