Phase separation organizes the site of autophagosome formation

Journal: Nature

Published: 2020-02-05

DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-1977-6

Affiliations: 15

Authors: 11

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Research Highlight

Tiny liquid droplets yield cellular recycling depots



The cell’s recycling hub, the autophagosome, takes shape via a process of ‘phase separation’, in which the various protein building blocks coalesce within the cell, much like beads of oil in vinaigrette, to form distinct liquid droplets.

The finding, by a Japan-led team that included researchers from Kanazawa University, indicates that the autophagosome is not only involved in degrading biomolecular condensates composed of other proteins and RNA molecule; the organelle itself comes together in the same way as well.

The researchers used various microscopy techniques to watch the autophagosome-generating machinery in action. Working with yeast cells and with autophagy-related proteins in a test tube, they obtained detailed evidence that the pre-autophagosomal structure forms inside liquid droplets. The team also showed how various mutations and chemical tags can impair this process by inhibiting phase separation.

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  1. Nature 578, 301–305 (2020). doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-1977-6
Institutions Share
Institute of Microbial Chemistry (IMC), Japan 0.32
WPI Nano Life Science Institute (NanoLSI), KU, Japan 0.14
Cell Biology Center, Tokyo Tech, Japan 0.12
RIKEN Center for Biosystems Dynamics Research (BDR), Japan 0.11
Life Science Data Research Center, UTokyo, Japan 0.05
Collaborative Research Institute for Innovative Microbiology (CRIIM), UTokyo, Japan 0.05
World Research Hub Initiative (WRHI), Tokyo Tech, Japan 0.03
Institute of Innovative Research (IIR), Tokyo Tech, Japan 0.03
Department of Physics, CAS UTokyo, Japan 0.02
Universal Biology Institute (UBI), UTokyo, Japan 0.02
WPI International Research Center for Neurointelligence (WPI-IRCN), UTokyo, Japan 0.02
Department of Theory and Bio-Systems, MPIKG, Germany 0.02
Graduate School of Medicine, UTokyo, Japan 0.02
Faculty of Medicine, UTokyo, Japan 0.02
Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology (MPIMP), Germany 0.02