The ATG16L1 gene provides instructions for making a protein called autophagy-related 16-like 1. This protein is part of a larger family of proteins that are required for a process called autophagy. Cells use this process to recycle worn-out cell parts and break down certain proteins when they are no longer needed. Autophagy also plays an important role in controlled cell death (apoptosis). Additionally, autophagy is involved in the body's inflammatory response and helps the immune system destroy some types of harmful bacteria and viruses.
The ATG16L1 gene belongs to a family of genes called WDR (WD repeat domain-containing).
At least one variation in the ATG16L1 gene is associated with an increased risk of Crohn's disease, particularly a form of the disorder that affects the lower part of the small intestine (the ileum). This increased risk has been found primarily in white populations. The identified ATG16L1 variation changes a single protein building block (amino acid) in a critical region of the autophagy-related 16-like 1 protein. Specifically, it replaces the amino acid threonine with the amino acid alanine at protein position 300 (written as Thr300Ala or T300A).
The effects of variations in the ATG16L1 gene on Crohn's disease risk are unclear. Changes in this gene may affect the autophagy process, allowing worn-out cell parts and harmful bacteria to persist when they would otherwise be destroyed. These cell components and bacteria may trigger an inappropriate immune system response, leading to chronic inflammation in the intestinal walls and the digestive problems characteristic of Crohn's disease.
Research has shown that risk alleles in this gene are linked to an increased predisposition to inflammatory bowel disease, autoimmune conditions, increased Bacteroides, dysbiosis, impaired autophagy, and increased risk for COVID-related cytokine storm.
By supporting autophagy, you can upregulate this gene's function.