The macroautophagic-lysosomal pathway is a bulk degradative process for cytosolic proteins and organelles including the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). We have previously shown that the human colonic carcinoma HT-29 cell population is characterized by a high rate of autophagic degradation of N-linked glycoproteins substituted with ER-type glycans. In the present work we demonstrate that glucosidase inhibitors [castanospermine (CST) and deoxynojirimycin] have a stabilizing effect on newly synthesized glucosylated N-linked glycoproteins and impaired their lysosomal delivery as shown by subcellular fractionation on Percoll gradients. The inhibition of macroautophagy was restricted to N-linked glycoproteins because macroautophagic parameters such as the rate of sequestration of cytosolic markers and the fractional volume occupied by autophagic vacuoles were not affected in CST-treated cells. The protection of glucosylated glycoproteins from autophagic sequestration was also observed in inhibitor-treated Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells and in Lec23 cells (a CHO mutant deficient in glucosidase I activity). The interaction of glucosylated glycoproteins with the ER chaperone binding protein (BiP) was prolonged in inhibitor-treated cells in comparison with untreated CHO cells. These results show that the removal of glucose from N-glycans of glycoproteins is a key event for their delivery to the autophagic pathway and that interaction with BiP could prevent or delay newly synthesized glucosylated N-linked glycoproteins from being sequestered by the autophagic pathway.

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