>What is autophagy?
Autophagy is a process of self-digestion that occurs in eukaryotic cells. Autophagy involves the formation of a membrane around a region of the cytoplasm, sequestering macromolecules like proteins and organelles, and the fusion of the resultant vesicle with a lysosome in which the contents are degraded. Through autophagy starving cells degrade materials within their own cells to provide necessary nutrients for more essential processes.
autophagy classification
Another essential function of autophagy in higher eukaryotes is to remove potentially harmful proteins to protect the cells against diseases and infection by pathogens. Furthermore, autophagy has been suggested to play a role in developmental and anti-aging functions in animal cells. Elucidation of autophagy is thus not only of academic, but also medical interest.

>Autophagy research in the TPRP
Although autophagy as a phenomenon was known for decades, it was not until 1993 that its molecular components were identified by a pathbreaking genetic study on baker’s yeast. Since then, a number of autophagy-related proteins have been found and most of them have been conserved over eukaryotes. However, the molecular mechanisms of autophagy have not been fully understood.
As many autophagy-related proteins have no significant homologies with others, structural studies may shed light on their functions. The Targeted Protein Research Program aims to facilitate autophagic study based on the structural determination of proteins.

Links to TPRP contents
Autophagy in TP Atlas
TPRP pamphlet (in Japanese) (PDF)
>Autophagic process
Yeast autophagy
Human autophagy
Molecular mechanism of autophagy