Biochemistry & Biophysics | Immunology & Pathogens | Molecular Cell Biology
Molecular Mechanisms of Autophagy
Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved and important process during which our cells digest or cannibalize small parts of themselves. Autophagy plays an essential role during starvation, the defense against pathogenic microorganisms, the removal of protein aggregates and the degradation of damaged organelles. Misregulated or defective autophagy can result in neurodegeneration and premature aging and is thus highly relevant to a plethora of human diseases...more
Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved and important process during which our cells digest or cannibalize small parts of themselves. Autophagy plays an essential role during starvation, the defense against pathogenic microorganisms, the removal of protein aggregates and the degradation of damaged organelles. Misregulated or defective autophagy can result in neurodegeneration and premature aging and is thus highly relevant to a plethora of human diseases.
Autophagy is induced by an upstream signal such as starvation, the detection of pathogenic microorganisms in the cytosol or by damaged mitochondria. This signal triggers the most enigmatic and fascinating step of autophagy, the de novo formation of autophagosomes. Initially a small double membrane bound structure is formed, which grows and adopts the shape of a cup. This cup-shaped structure eventually fuses at its rims to form a double membrane bound organelle enclosing a part of the cell’s cytoplasm. The autophagosome then fuses with components of the classical endosomal system thereby maturing to an autolysosome within which the content is degraded. The degraded content can subsequently be used for the synthesis of factors that are essential for the survival of the cell.
Although many genes that are important for autophagy have been identified we have only a very limited understanding of how this important and fascinating process is regulated and executed. Thus, the challenge now is to assign functions to these genes in order to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms that orchestrate autophagy
Sawa-Makarska, Justyna; Abert, Christine; Romanov, Julia; Zens, Bettina; Ibiricu, Iosune; Martens, Sascha (2014). Cargo binding to Atg19 unmasks additional Atg8 binding sites to mediate membrane-cargo apposition during selective autophagy. NAT CELL BIOL;5(16):425-33. PMID: 24705553
Romanov, Julia; Walczak, Marta; Ibiricu, Iosune; Schüchner, Stefan; Ogris, Egon; Kraft, Claudine; Martens, Sascha (2012). Mechanism and functions of membrane binding by the Atg5-Atg12/Atg16 complex during autophagosome formation. EMBO J;31(22):4304-17. PMID: 23064152
Kraft,C., Martens, S. (2012). Mechanisms and regulation of autophagosome formation. CURR OPIN CELL BIOL;24(4):496-501. PMID: 22664348
ERC Consolidator Grant 2014
Sascha Martens is awardee of a "Consolidator Grant" from the European Research Council ERC!
FWF Stand Alone Projects
The Martens Lab is funded by FWF Stand Alone Grants (P25546-B20 and P27799-B20)
EMBO Young Investigator Award 2013
Sascha Martens joins the network of EMBO Young Investigators!
ERC Starting Grant 2010
Sascha Martens is awardee of a "Starting Independent Researcher Grant" from the European Research Council ERC!
Austrian Academy of Sciences
Sascha Martens has been elected member of the "Junge Kurie" of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in April 2011
Doctoral Program "Cell Signaling"
The Group Martens is Associated Member of the special Doctoral Program "Molecular Mechanisms of Cell Signaling" reviewed and funded by the Austrian Research Fund FWF.