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Autophagy. 2005 Apr;1(1):1-10. Epub 2005 Apr 28.

Maturation of autophagic vacuoles in Mammalian cells.

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Institute of Biochemistry, University of Kiel, Germany.


The autophagic process was first described in mammalian cells several decades ago. After their formation as double-membraned vacuoles containing cytoplasmic material, autophagic vacuoles or autophagosomes undergo a stepwise maturation including fusion with both endosomal and lysosomal vesicles. However, the molecular mechanisms regulating these fusion steps have begun to emerge only recently. The list of newly discovered molecules that regulate the maturation of autophagosomes to degradative autolysosomes includes the AAA ATPase SKD1, the small GTP binding protein Rab7, and possibly also the Alzheimer-linked presenilin 1. This review combines previous data on the endo/lysosomal fusion steps during autophagic vacuole maturation with recent findings on the molecules regulating these fusion steps. Interestingly, autophagic vacuole maturation appears to be blocked in certain human diseases including neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis and Danon disease. This suggests that autophagy has important housekeeping or protective functions because a block in autophagic maturation causes a disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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