The role of membrane proteins in mammalian autophagy
Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved degradative process that is initiated by autophagosomes, double-membrane structures that sequester cytoplasmic material and fuse with endosomes and lysosomes to become autolysosomes. Recent progress in the identification of proteins required for autophagy has led to a substantial understanding of the process involved in making an autophagosome. Mammalian Atg9, a multi-spanning transmembrane protein, is one of the possible keys to understanding how autophagosomes are formed. Current and future advances in understanding the function of mammalian Atg9 will provide a basis for further progress. In addition, the identification of so far uncharacterized transmembrane proteins which are involved in autophagy will also help to address the important questions of where, how, and why autophagosomes form.