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J Biol Chem. 2008 Nov 21;283(47):32386-93. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M802403200. Epub 2008 Sep 25.

Mitophagy in yeast occurs through a selective mechanism.

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  • 1Life Sciences Institute and Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-2216, USA.


The regulation of mitochondrial degradation through autophagy is expected to be a tightly controlled process, considering the significant role of this organelle in many processes ranging from energy production to cell death. However, very little is known about the specific nature of the degradation process. We developed a new method to detect mitochondrial autophagy (mitophagy) by fusing the green fluorescent protein at the C terminus of two endogenous mitochondrial proteins and monitored vacuolar release of green fluorescent protein. Using this method, we screened several atg mutants and found that ATG11, a gene that is essential only for selective autophagy, is also essential for mitophagy. In addition, we found that mitophagy is blocked even under severe starvation conditions, if the carbon source makes mitochondria essential for metabolism. These findings suggest that the degradation of mitochondria is a tightly regulated process and that these organelles are largely protected from nonspecific autophagic degradation.

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