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Autophagy and microtubules – new story, old players
Rafah Mackeh, Daniel Perdiz, Séverine Lorin, Patrice Codogno, Christian Poüs


Both at a basal level and after induction (especially in response to nutrient starvation), the function of autophagy is to allow cells to degrade and recycle damaged organelles, proteins and other biological constituents. Here, we focus on the role microtubules have in autophagosome formation, autophagosome transport across the cytoplasm and in the formation of autolysosomes. Recent insights into the exact relationship between autophagy and microtubules now point to the importance of microtubule dynamics, tubulin post-translational modifications and microtubule motors in the autophagy process. Such factors regulate signaling pathways that converge to stimulate autophagosome formation. They also orchestrate the movements of pre-autophagosomal structures and autophagosomes or more globally organize and localize immature and mature autophagosomes and lysosomes. Most of the factors that now appear to link microtubules to autophagosome formation or to autophagosome dynamics and fate were identified initially without the notion that sequestration, recruitment and/or interaction with microtubules contribute to their function. Spatial and temporal coordination of many stages in the life of autophagosomes thus underlines the integrative role of microtubules and progressively reveals hidden parts of the autophagy machinery.


  • Funding

    R.M., S.L., D.P. and C.P. are supported by institutional funding from the Université Paris-Sud. P.C. is supported by institutional funding from the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) and Université Paris Descartes.

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