Autophagy in turnover of lipid stores: trans-kingdom comparison

J Exp Bot. 2018 Mar 14;69(6):1301-1311. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erx433.


Lipids and their cellular utilization are essential for life. Not only are lipids energy storage molecules, but their diverse structural and physical properties underlie various aspects of eukaryotic biology, such as membrane structure, signalling, and trafficking. In the ever-changing environment of cells, lipids, like other cellular components, are regularly recycled to uphold the housekeeping processes required for cell survival and organism longevity. The ways in which lipids are recycled, however, vary between different phyla. For example, animals and plants have evolved distinct lipid degradation pathways. The major cell recycling system, autophagy, has been shown to be instrumental for both differentiation of specialized fat storing-cells, adipocytes, and fat degradation in animals. Does plant autophagy play a similar role in storage and degradation of lipids? In this review, we discuss and compare implications of bulk autophagy and its selective route, lipophagy, in the turnover of lipid stores in animals, fungi, and plants.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autophagy*
  • Fungi / metabolism
  • Fungi / physiology*
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Plant Physiological Phenomena*
  • Plants / metabolism