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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2009 Sep;1793(9):1452-60. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamcr.2009.02.009. Epub 2009 Mar 2.

Autophagy in Drosophila melanogaster.

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Department of Cancer Biology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA 01605, USA.


Macroautophagy (autophagy) is a bulk cytoplasmic degradation process that is conserved from yeast to mammals. Autophagy is an important cellular response to starvation and stress, and plays critical roles in development, cell death, aging, immunity, and cancer. The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster provides an excellent model system to study autophagy in vivo, in the context of a developing organism. Autophagy (atg) genes and their regulators are conserved in Drosophila, and autophagy is induced in response to nutrient starvation and hormones during development. In this review we provide an overview of how Drosophila research has contributed to our understanding of the role and regulation of autophagy in cell survival, growth, nutrient utilization, and cell death. Recent Drosophila research has also provided important mechanistic information about the role of autophagy in protein aggregation disorders, neurodegeneration, aging, and innate immunity. Differences in the role of autophagy in specific contexts and/or cell types suggest that there may be cell-context-specific regulators of autophagy, and studies in Drosophila are well-suited to yield discoveries about this specificity.

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