Macroautophagy (autophagy) is a highly conserved intracellular degradation system that is essential for homeostasis in eukaryotic cells. Due to the wide variety of the cytoplasmic targets of autophagy, its dysregulation is associated with many diseases in humans, such as neurodegenerative diseases, heart disease and cancer. During autophagy, cytoplasmic materials are sequestered by the autophagosome – a double-membraned structure – and transported to the lysosome for digestion. The specific stages of autophagy are induction, formation of the isolation membrane (phagophore), formation and maturation of the autophagosome and, finally, fusion with a late endosome or lysosome. Although there are significant insights into each of these steps, the mechanisms of autophagosome–lysosome fusion are least understood, although there have been several recent advances. In this Commentary, we will summarize the current knowledge regarding autophagosome–lysosome fusion, focusing on mammals, and discuss the remaining questions and future directions of the field.
- Received January 3, 2017.
- Accepted February 9, 2017.
- © 2017. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd