The Process of Autophagy | What is Autophagy?

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The Process of Autophagy | What is Autophagy?

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The Process of Autophagy - begins with the formation and elongation of isolation membranes, or phagophores. The cytoplasmic cargo is then sequestered, and the double-membrane autophagosome fuses......

The Process of Autophagy - begins with the formation and elongation of isolation membranes, or phagophores. The cytoplasmic cargo is then sequestered, and the double-membrane autophagosome fuses with a lysosome to generate the autolysosome. Finally, degradation is achieved through the action of hydrolytic enzymes within the autolysosome.

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  • 1. Autophagy—The BasicsWhat is AutophagyWhen it comes to managing stress, our cells function like efficient machines, quicklyassessing the situation and finding ways to adjust. Autophagy—literally, “eatingoneself”—is one way that cells deal with typical day-to-day stress (misfoldedproteins, aged or defective organelles) as well as unexpected disasters (hypoxicconditions, serum starvation, viral infections). The cellular machinery either digeststhe damaged or defective molecules, effectively eliminating the stressors thatthreaten cell health, or, in the case of hypoxia and serum starvation, devours existingproteins and organelles to generate key nutrients for survival.Much about the autophagic process is still not well understood, including its role indiseases such as cancer and neurodegeneration. Here we describe newfluorescence-based imaging tools to help visualize this important intracellularprocess.The ProcessThe process of autophagy begins with the formation and elongation of isolationmembranes, or phagophores. The cytoplasmic cargo is then sequestered, and thedouble-membrane autophagosome fuses with a lysosome to generate theautolysosome. Finally, degradation is achieved through the action of hydrolyticenzymes within the autolysosome.The Continual Study of AutophagyAutophagy was first described in 1963; however, only in the past decade has thispathway become the subject of intense study. Researchers have sought to gainfurther insight into the role basal autophagy plays in cell homeostasis anddevelopment, and to further elucidate the role of induced autophagy in the cell’sresponse to stress, microbial infection, and disease processes such asneurodegeneration, cancer, and others. Learn more about Autophagy