The autophagosome: origins unknown, biogenesis complex

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2013 Dec;14(12):759-74. doi: 10.1038/nrm3696. Epub 2013 Nov 8.


Healthy cells use autophagy as a general 'housekeeping' mechanism and to survive stress, including stress induced by nutrient deprivation. Autophagy is initiated at the isolation membrane (originally termed the phagophore), and the coordinated action of ATG (autophagy-related) proteins results in the expansion of this membrane to form the autophagosome. Although the biogenesis of the isolation membrane and the autophagosome is complex and incompletely understood, insight has been gained into the molecular processes involved in initiating the isolation membrane, the source from which this originates (for example, it was recently proposed that the isolation membrane forms from the mitochondria-associated endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membrane (MAM)) and the role of ATG proteins and the vesicular trafficking machinery in autophagosome formation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autophagy*
  • Endocytosis
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / metabolism
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / ultrastructure
  • Golgi Apparatus / physiology
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Membranes / metabolism
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Multiprotein Complexes / physiology
  • Phagosomes / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / physiology
  • Vesicular Transport Proteins / metabolism


  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • Vesicular Transport Proteins
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1