Autophagy is an essential cellular process, used by cells to degrade damaged and unneccessary cytosolic macromolecules and organelles, for example proteins. This prevents cell functions and pathways from being damaged or interrupted by aggregates of proteins or non-functioning organelles, a key cause of disease. Autophagy proceeds via a five-step mechanism that starts with the sequestration of cytosolic material by a double-membrane, known as a 'phagophore'.
One of the key products of autophagy, amino acids, can be used for anabolic processes within the cell.
Autophagy is controlled by mTOR (Mechanistic target of rapomycin), a kinase coded for by the MTOR gene. When mTOR is activated, autophagy is suppressed. mTOR can be suppressed by low amino acid concentrations, allowing autophagy to produce more amino acids.
- ↑ Lin S., Leng Z., Guo Y., Cai L., Cai Y., Li N., Shang H., Le W., Zhao W., Wu Z. (2015). Suppression of mTOR pathway and induction of autophagy-dependent cell death by cabergoline. Oncotarget, 5744 (Epub ahead of print)
- ↑ Carroll, B., Korolchuk, V., Sarkar, S. (2015). Amino acids and autophagy: cross-talk and co-operation to control cellular homeostasis. Amino Acids, 47(10), pp2065-2088