Endocytosis and autophagy: exploitation or cooperation?
Autophagy is a lysosome-mediated degradative system that is a highly conserved pathway present in all eukaryotes. In all cells, double-membrane autophagosomes form and engulf cytoplasmic components, delivering them to the lysosome for degradation. Autophagy is essential for cell health and can be activated to function as a recycling pathway in the absence of nutrients or as a quality-control pathway to eliminate damaged organelles or even to eliminate invading pathogens. Autophagy was first identified as a pathway in mammalian cells using morphological techniques, but the Atg (autophagy-related) genes required for autophagy were identified in yeast genetic screens. Despite tremendous advances in elucidating the function of individual Atg proteins, our knowledge of how autophagosomes form and subsequently interact with the endosomal pathway has lagged behind. Recent progress toward understanding where and how both the endocytotic and autophagic pathways overlap is reviewed here.