Japanese scientists discover the mystery of autophagy

Autophagy is an important means for cells to accelerate their metabolism or gain energy when they are hungry, but scientists have never known how autophagy is accomplished. Japanese scientists have recently reported that a small molecule protein is essential in the process of autophagy.

According to media reports here on the 15th, autophagy refers to the phenomenon that cells decompose their own constituents such as cytoplasm. Autophagy plays an important role in various life activities, for example, it can accelerate the metabolism in the cell, or obtain energy from the decomposition products when the cell is starving. In the process of autophagy, cells need a special "pocket" to surround and isolate the material to be decomposed. This "pocket" called autophagosome is composed of a bilayer lipid membrane, and its formation mechanism has been a mystery.

Scientists at the Japan Institute of Science and Technology Promotion and the Institute of Basic Biology have discovered that a protein called "Atg8" plays an important role in the formation of autophagosomes. The researchers found in the experiment that "Atg8" and a phospholipid molecule can bind to the lipid membrane to form an autophagosome.

In experiments using yeast, if the function of "Atg8" is completely destroyed, autophagosomes cannot be formed in the yeast cells, and if part of the function of "Atg8" is impaired, the autophagosomes formed by the yeast cells are significantly better than The autophagosome is small.

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