Analysis of the membrane structures involved in autophagy in yeast by freeze-replica method

Cell Struct Funct. 1995 Dec;20(6):465-71. doi: 10.1247/csf.20.465.


Under starvation conditions, the yeast S. cerevisiae sequesters its own cytoplasmic components by forming autophagosomes with double membrane in the cytoplasm. The autophagosome then fuses with the vacuolar membrane and delivers its own cytoplasmic components into the vacuole in the form of an autophagic body with a single membrane (Baba, M., Takeshige, K., Baba, N., and Ohsumi, Y. 1994. J. Cell Biol., 124: 903-913). We examined membrane structures involved in the autophagy induced by nitrogen-starvation by using freeze-replica method. The most conspicuous characteristic of the autophagic body is that the intramembrane particles were rarely detected on either the protoplasmic or exoplasmic face of its fracture membrane. This morphological feature of the fractured face was clearly different from other intracellular organelles. Next we examined the autophagosomal membrane. The inner membrane of autophagosome was also intramembrane particle-free, and its morphological feature was identical to the membrane of autophagic body. At the fusion site between autophagosome and vacuole we obtained direct evidence that two different membranes, the outer membrane of autophagosome and vacuolar membrane, became continuous by using freeze-etching technique. From these results we concluded that the autophagic body originated from the inner membrane of the autophagosome, and its membrane reflects an intrinsic feature of autophagosomal membrane. The outer membrane of autophagosome had only a few intramembrane particles and may be differentiated from the inner membrane. In cells under nitrogen-starvation condition, the density of intramembrane particles of vacuolar membrane decreased beyond that in control cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Autophagy
  • Cell Membrane
  • Culture Media / pharmacology*
  • Membrane Fusion
  • Nitrogen / pharmacology*
  • Phagosomes / drug effects*
  • Phagosomes / metabolism
  • Phagosomes / ultrastructure
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / drug effects*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / ultrastructure
  • Vacuoles / drug effects*
  • Vacuoles / metabolism
  • Vacuoles / ultrastructure


  • Culture Media
  • Nitrogen