Mechanisms that turn over components of the nucleus and inner nuclear membrane (INM) remain to be fully defined. We explore how components of the INM are selected by a cytosolic autophagy apparatus through a transmembrane nuclear envelope–localized cargo adaptor, Atg39. A split-GFP reporter showed that Atg39 localizes to the outer nuclear membrane (ONM) and thus targets the INM across the nuclear envelope lumen. Consistent with this, sequence elements that confer both nuclear envelope localization and a membrane remodeling activity are mapped to the Atg39 lumenal domain; these lumenal motifs are required for the autophagy-mediated degradation of integral INM proteins. Interestingly, correlative light and electron microscopy shows that the overexpression of Atg39 leads to the expansion of the ONM and the enclosure of a network of INM-derived vesicles in the nuclear envelope lumen. Thus, we propose an outside–in model of nucleophagy where INM is delivered into vesicles in the nuclear envelope lumen, which can be targeted by the autophagosome.

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