In contrast to stress-induced macroautophagy/autophagy that happens during nutrient deprivation and other environmental challenges, basal autophagy is thought to be an important mechanism that cells utilize for homeostatic purposes. For instance, basal autophagy is used to recycle damaged and malfunctioning organelles and proteins to provide the building blocks for the generation of new ones throughout life. In addition, specialized autophagic processes, such as lipophagy, the autophagy-induced breakdown of lipid droplets (LDs), and glycophagy (breakdown of glycogen), are employed to maintain proper energy levels in the cell. The importance of autophagy in the regulation of stem cell behavior has been the focus of recent studies. However, the upstream signals that control autophagic activity in stem cells and the precise role of autophagy in stem cells are only starting to be elucidated. In a recent publication, we described how the Egfr (epidermal growth factor receptor) pathway stimulates basal autophagy to support the maintenance of somatic cyst stem cells (CySCs) and to control lipid levels in the Drosophila testis.
Keywords: Drosophila; Autophagy; Egfr; cyst stem cell; fatty acid oxidation; lipid droplet.