The Role of Autophagy in Mammalian Development: Cell Makeover Rather than Cell Death

Francesco Cecconi, Beth Levine

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

376 Scopus citations

Abstract

Autophagy is important for the degradation of bulk cytoplasm, long-lived proteins, and entire organelles. In lower eukaryotes, autophagy functions as a cell death mechanism or as a stress response during development. However, autophagy's significance in vertebrate development, and the role (if any) of vertebrate-specific factors in its regulation, remains unexplained. Through careful analysis of the current autophagy gene mutant mouse models, we propose that in mammals, autophagy may be involved in specific cytosolic rearrangements needed for proliferation, death, and differentiation during embryogenesis and postnatal development. Thus, autophagy is a process of cytosolic "renovation," crucial in cell fate decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)344-357
Number of pages14
JournalDevelopmental Cell
Volume15
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 16 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology

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