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J Cell Sci. 2005 Jan 1;118(Pt 1):7-18.

The molecular machinery of autophagy: unanswered questions.

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  • 1Life Sciences Institute, Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA. klionsky@umich.edu

Abstract

Autophagy is a process in which cytosol and organelles are sequestered within double-membrane vesicles that deliver the contents to the lysosome/vacuole for degradation and recycling of the resulting macromolecules. It plays an important role in the cellular response to stress, is involved in various developmental pathways and functions in tumor suppression, resistance to pathogens and extension of lifespan. Conversely, autophagy may be associated with certain myopathies and neurodegenerative conditions. Substantial progress has been made in identifying the proteins required for autophagy and in understanding its molecular basis; however, many questions remain. For example, Tor is one of the key regulatory proteins at the induction step that controls the function of a complex including Atg1 kinase, but the target of Atg1 is not known. Although autophagy is generally considered to be nonspecific, there are specific types of autophagy that utilize receptor and adaptor proteins such as Atg11; however, the means by which Atg11 connects the cargo with the sequestering vesicle, the autophagosome, is not understood. Formation of the autophagosome is a complex process and neither the mechanism of vesicle formation nor the donor membrane origin is known. The final breakdown of the sequestered cargo relies on well-characterized lysosomal/vacuolar proteases; the roles of lipases, by contrast, have not been elucidated, and we do not know how the integrity of the lysosome/vacuole membrane is maintained during degradation.

PMID:
15615779
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC1828869
Free PMC Article
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