Chapter

Autophagy in Infection and Immunity

Volume 335 of the series Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology pp 1-32

Date:

An Overview of the Molecular Mechanism of Autophagy

  • Zhifen YangAffiliated withLife Sciences Institute and Departments of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology and Biological Chemistry, University of Michigan
  • , Daniel J. KlionskyAffiliated withLife Sciences Institute and Departments of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology and Biological Chemistry, University of Michigan Email author 

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Abstract

Autophagy is a highly conserved cellular degradation process in which portions of cytosol and organelles are sequestered into a double-membrane vesicle, an autophagosome, and delivered into a degradative organelle, the vacuole/lysosome, for breakdown and eventual recycling of the resulting macromolecules. This process relieves the cell from various stress conditions. Autophagy plays a critical role during cellular development and differentiation, functions in tumor suppression, and may be linked to life span extension. Autophagy also has diverse roles in innate and adaptive immunity, such as resistance to pathogen invasion. Substantial progress has been made in the identification of many autophagy-related (ATG) genes that are essential to drive this cellular process, including both selective and nonselective types of autophagy. Identification of the ATG genes in yeast, and the finding of orthologs in other organisms, reveals the conservation of the autophagic machinery in all eukaryotes. Here, we summarize our current knowledge about the machinery and molecular mechanism of autophagy.