Stress conditions lead to a variety of physiological responses at the cellular level. Autophagy is an essential process used by animal, plant, and fungal cells that allows for both recycling of macromolecular constituents under conditions of nutrient limitation and remodeling the intracellular structure for cell differentiation. To elucidate the molecular basis of autophagic protein transport to the vacuole/lysosome, we have undertaken a morphological and biochemical analysis of this pathway in yeast. Using the vacuolar hydrolase aminopeptidase I (API) as a marker, we provide evidence that the autophagic pathway overlaps with the biosynthetic pathway, cytoplasm to vacuole targeting (Cvt), used for API import. Before targeting, the precursor form of API is localized mostly in restricted regions of the cytosol as a complex with spherical particles (termed Cvt complex). During vegetative growth, the Cvt complex is selectively wrapped by a membrane sac forming a double membrane-bound structure of approximately 150 nm diam, which then fuses with the vacuolar membrane. This process is topologically the same as macroautophagy induced under starvation conditions in yeast (Baba, M., K. Takeshige, N. Baba, and Y. Ohsumi. 1994. J. Cell Biol. 124:903-913). However, in contrast with autophagy, API import proceeds constitutively in growing conditions. This is the first demonstration of the use of an autophagy-like mechanism for biosynthetic delivery of a vacuolar hydrolase. Another important finding is that when cells are subjected to starvation conditions, the Cvt complex is now taken up by an autophagosome that is much larger and contains other cytosolic components; depending on environmental conditions, the cell uses an alternate pathway to sequester the Cvt complex and selectively deliver API to the vacuole. Together these results indicate that two related but distinct autophagy-like processes are involved in both biogenesis of vacuolar resident proteins and sequestration of substrates to be degraded.
Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research
Choose a citation style from the tabs below