PerspectiveCell Biology

Closing the loop

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Science  25 Nov 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6315, pp. 968-969
DOI: 10.1126/science.aal3145

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Summary

In 1963, the term autophagy was coined by Christian de Duve (Nobel Laureate, 1974) to denote the degradation of cellular self-constituents by the lysosome (1). In 2016, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Yoshinori Ohsumi for “his discoveries of mechanisms for autophagy” (2). Such discoveries led to the unveiling of autophagy as an evolutionarily conserved pathway that functions in differentiation and development, physiology, and protection against aging and many diseases (3). On page 1036 of this issue, Tsuboyama et al. (4) uncover a surprising twist to the mechanism in mammalian cells for forming the autophagosomal membrane, the structure that engulfs unwanted cellular cargo for delivery to the lysosome. These findings have implications for understanding the various roles of autophagy-related genes (ATGs) in membrane-trafficking and mammalian health and disease.