Macroautophagy (autophagy) is a conserved catabolic process that targets cytoplasmic components to lysosomes for degradation. Autophagy is required for cellular homeostasis and cell survival in response to starvation and stress, and paradoxically, it also plays a role in programmed cell death during development. The mechanisms that regulate the relationship between autophagy, cell survival, and cell death are poorly understood. Here we review research in Drosophila that has provided insights into the regulation of autophagy by steroid hormones and nutrient restriction and discuss how autophagy influences cell growth, nutrient utilization, cell survival, and cell death.
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