The health of metazoan organisms requires an effective response to organellar and cellular damage either by repair of such damage and/or by elimination of the damaged parts of the cells or the damaged cell in its entirety. Here, we consider the progress that has been made in the last few decades in determining the fates of damaged organelles and damaged cells through discrete, but genetically overlapping, pathways involving the selective autophagy and cell death machinery. We further discuss the ways in which the autophagy machinery may impact the clearance and consequences of dying cells for host physiology. Failure in the proper removal of damaged organelles and/or damaged cells by selective autophagy and cell death processes is likely to contribute to developmental abnormalities, cancer, aging, inflammation, and other diseases.
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