Related topics: protein

Scientists discover how cells respond to fasting

As modern life-styles and high calorie diets drive the UK's obesity levels up, researchers from the University of Warwick have found how cells respond to fasting and activate the process called autophagy, which means a healthier ...

How cells decide the way they want to recycle their content

Autophagy is a housekeeping process through which cells remove dysfunctional contents to balance energy sources during times of stress. Now, researchers from Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) identified a novel molecular ...

New membranes for cellular recycling

There is a constant spring-cleaning in our cells: The cell's own recycling system, so-called autophagy, fills garbage bags with cellular waste, transports them to the recycling yard and makes the decomposed material available ...

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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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