GROUP MARTENS | Biochemistry & Biophysics, Immunology & Pathogens, Molecular Cell Biology
Molecular Mechanisms of Autophagy
Scheme showing the generation of autophagosomes. Initially a small double membrane-bound structure called isolation membrane is formed. This structure expands to adopt a cup-like shape thereby gradually enclosing cytoplasmic cargo. This structure fuses at its rims giving rise to the mature autophagosome. Subsequently, autophagosomes fuse with lysosomes. Within these so-called autolysosomes the inner membrane and the cargo are degraded.
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...