Autophagy in filamentous ascomycetes


Autophagy is defined as a tightly controlled non-selective degradation process in which eukaryotic cells digest their own proteins and organelles in response to starvation or stress conditions. In filamentous ascomycetes, autophagy is involved in various developmental processes. However, the exact role of autophagy in multicellular fruiting-body development is largely unknown.
Two types of macroautophagy have been described: non-selective and selective autophagy. Non-selective autophagy is the random engulfment of cytoplasm and organelles into double-membrane vesicles, the autophagosomes, and the delivery of the cargo to the vacuole for degradation. In selective autophagy, specific cargos such as organelles, protein aggregates or enzymes are recognized by cargo receptors and enwrapped into autophagosomes.
Using a reverse genetics approach, we have recently shown that the autophagy genes Smatg8 and other conserved genes required for core functions of the selective and non-selective autophagic machinery are essential for fruiting-body development in the filamentous ascomycete Sordaria macrospora. Our aim is to understand how selective autophagy contributes to vegetative growth and fruiting-body development in filamentous ascomycetes.