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Trends Biochem Sci. 2014 Feb;39(2):61-71. doi: 10.1016/j.tibs.2013.12.001. Epub 2013 Dec 24.

At the end of the autophagic road: an emerging understanding of lysosomal functions in autophagy.

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Department of Physiology, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore. Electronic address:
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Graduate School and Faculty of Medicine, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan. Electronic address:


In the past decade, autophagy studies have largely focused on the early stage of autophagy: the molecular mechanisms leading to autophagosome formation. Recently, however, we have observed significant progress in understanding the role of lysosomes, the specific cellular organelle that degrades cellular components delivered via autophagy. The discoveries include connections between autophagy and lysosomal biogenesis, activation, reformation, and turnover, as well as the identification of an autophagosomal SNARE (soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptor) protein in control of autophagosome-lysosome fusion. We illustrate these findings in the context of the underlying molecular mechanisms and the relevance to human health and disease.


autophagosome; autophagy; lysosome; mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1; neurodegenerative diseases; soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptor; transcription factor EB

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