Related topics: protein

A new role of autophagy in plant cell differentiation revealed

A midlife career change is hard to pull off, because it can involve reinventing yourself and adopting a completely new professional role. Now, researchers from Japan show that some plant cells get a helping hand from autophagy ...

How invading pathogens switch off plant cells' defenses

Many disease-causing bacteria are able to inhibit the defense mechanisms in plants and thus escape dissolution by the plant cell, a process known as xenophagy. Animal and human cells have a similar mechanism whereby the cell's ...

Autophagy in major human diseases

In a consensus article, Federico Pietrocola, at the Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, KI, and colleagues explore the pathophysiological relevance of autophagy in human illnesses, while highlighting the therapeutic ...

Autophagy: Balancing zinc and iron in plants

Nutrient imbalances can adversely impact crop health and agricultural productivity. The trace elements zinc and iron are taken up by the same transporters in plants, so zinc deficiency can result in excess uptake of iron. ...

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Autophagy

In cell biology, autophagy, or autophagocytosis, is a catabolic process involving the degradation of a cell's own components through the lysosomal machinery. It is a tightly regulated process that plays a normal part in cell growth, development, and homeostasis, helping to maintain a balance between the synthesis, degradation, and subsequent recycling of cellular products. It is a major mechanism by which a starving cell reallocates nutrients from unnecessary processes to more-essential processes.

A variety of autophagic processes exist, all having in common the degradation of intracellular components via the lysosome. The most well-known mechanism of autophagy involves the formation of a membrane around a targeted region of the cell, separating the contents from the rest of the cytoplasm. The resultant vesicle then fuses with a lysosome and subsequently degrades the contents.

It was first described in the 1960s, but many questions about the actual processes and mechanisms involved still remain to be elucidated. Its role in disease is not well categorized; it may help to prevent or halt the progression of some diseases such as some types of neurodegeneration and cancer, and play a protective role against infection by intracellular pathogens; however, in some situations, it may actually contribute to the development of a disease.

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