Eaten alive: novel insights into autophagy from multicellular model systems

Trends Cell Biol. 2015 Jul;25(7):376-87. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2015.03.001. Epub 2015 Apr 7.


Autophagy delivers cytoplasmic material to lysosomes for degradation. First identified in yeast, the core genes that control this process are conserved in higher organisms. Studies of mammalian cell cultures have expanded our understanding of the core autophagy pathway, but cannot reveal the unique animal-specific mechanisms for the regulation and function of autophagy. Multicellular organisms have different types of cells that possess distinct composition, morphology, and organization of intracellular organelles. In addition, the autophagic machinery integrates signals from other cells and environmental conditions to maintain cell, tissue and organism homeostasis. Here, we highlight how studies of autophagy in flies and worms have identified novel core autophagy genes and mechanisms, and provided insight into the context-specific regulation and function of autophagy.

Keywords: Caenorhabditis elegans; Drosophila melanogaster; aggrephagy; autophagy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autophagy / genetics*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / metabolism
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Lysosomes / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological
  • Organ Specificity
  • Protein Kinases / genetics*
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Species Specificity
  • Ubiquitins / genetics*
  • Ubiquitins / metabolism


  • Ubiquitins
  • Protein Kinases