Autophagy mediates the degradation of cellular components in lysosomes, assuring removal of altered or dysfunctional proteins and organelles. Autophagy is not only activated in response to cellular damage; in fact, one of its strongest and better-characterized stimuli is starvation. Activation of autophagy when nutrients are scarce allows cells to reutilize their own constituents for energy. Besides protein breakdown, autophagy also contributes to the mobilization of diverse cellular energy stores. This recently discovered interplay between autophagy and lipid and carbohydrate metabolism reveals the existence of a dynamic feedback between autophagy and cellular energy balance.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.