E2-like enzyme involved in autophagy and mitochondrial homeostasis. Catalyzes the conjugation of ATG8-like proteins (GABARAP, GABARAPL1, GABARAPL2 or MAP1LC3A) to phosphatidylethanolamine (PE). PE-conjugation to ATG8-like proteins is essential for autophagy. Preferred substrate is MAP1LC3A. Also acts as an autocatalytic E2-like enzyme, catalyzing the conjugation of ATG12 to itself, ATG12 conjugation to ATG3 playing a role in mitochondrial homeostasis but not in autophagy. ATG7 (E1-like enzyme) facilitates this reaction by forming an E1-E2 complex with ATG3.
Widely expressed, with a highest expression in heart, skeletal muscle, kidney, liver and placenta.
Belongs to the ATG3 family.
Conjugated to ATG12 at Lys-243. ATG12-conjugation plays a role in regulation of mitochondrial homeostasis and cell death, while it is not involved in PE-conjugation to ATG8-like proteins and autophagy.