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Not just clean but spotless -- Researchers show how cells tidy up
Date:1/17/2014

Autophagy or how cells tidy up

"Bang and the dirt is gone!" There are many commercials for products that claim to make the unpopular process of cleaning up easier. But it's not only our surroundings that need to be kept clean. Even our cells need to tidy up. The responsible cellular process is called autophagy, in which the coordinated action of a set of proteins removes damaged cell material or pathogens, such as bacteria, from a cell. At the same time autophagy also helps cells to survive in times of starvation by recycling the cells' own components to produce energy, similar to recycling stations in a city.

The central player in autophagy: Atg1

For some time researcher had known the key coordinator of autophagy the protein Atg1. However, how Atg1 exactly does its job remained unclear, despite the efforts of many groups worldwide. Now, the team of Claudine Kraft at the Max F. Perutz Laboratories (MFPL) of the University of Vienna showed that Atg1 modifies a set of proteins with a specific recognition sequence. In collaboration with their colleagues Gustav Ammerer at MFPL and Ben Turk at the University of Yale, they not only deciphered the recognition sequence but also determined the cellular proteins that actually contain this sequence. One, Atg9, caught the interest of the researchers in particular, as it is not only a known component of the cellular "waste bag", but also contains a stunning six of those specific recognition sequences. Daniel Papinski, first author of the study, explains: "Every cell contains specialized recycling stations. In order to dispose its waste, a cell needs to wrap it up, similar to putting garbage in a bag. This cellular trash bag can then be brought to the cellular recycling station where the waste is broken down into the re-usable parts." Atg9 is essential for this process.

How does Atg1 coordinate the packaging of cellular waste?

To test how Atg1 precisely regulates the pa
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Contact: Lilly Sommer
lilly.sommer@mfpl.ac.at
43-142-772-4014
University of Vienna
Source:Eurekalert  

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