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Autophagy. 2005 Jul;1(2):75-83. Epub 2005 Jul 13.

Pexophagy: the selective autophagy of peroxisomes.

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Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, Florida, USA.


Pichia pastoris and Hansenula polymorpha are methylotrophic yeasts capable of utilizing methanol, as a sole source of carbon and energy. Growth of these yeast species on methanol requires the synthesis of cytosolic and peroxisomal enzymes combined with the proliferation of peroxisomes. Peroxisomes are also abundantly present in the alkane-utilizing yeast Yarrowia lipolytica upon growth of cells on oleic acid. This feature has made these yeast species attractive model systems to dissect the molecular mechanisms controlling peroxisome biogenesis. We have found that upon glucose- or ethanol-induced catabolite inactivation, metabolically superfluous peroxisomes are rapidly and selectively degraded within the vacuole by a process called pexophagy, the selective removal of peroxisomes by autophagy-like processes. Utilizing several genetic screens, we have identified a number of genes that are essential for pexophagy. In this review, we will summarize our current knowledge of the molecular events of pexophagy.

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