The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 2016, was awarded to Prof Yoshinori Ohsumi from TokyoInstitute of Technology, Yokohoma, Japan, for his work that helped in understanding the molecularmechanisms of autophagy, a process used by most eukaryotic cells to degrade a portion of cytoplasmincluding damaged organelles, large protein complexes and aggregated proteins in lysosomes. This processof autophagy (self-eating) maintains cellular homeostasis and helps the cell and the organism to surviveduring periods of stress, such as starvation, by recycling the cellular components to generate amino acidsand nutrients needed for producing energy. Autophagy and ubiquitin-proteasome system are the two majorprotein degradation systems in the cell.The lysosome was identified by Christian de Duve in the 1950s as a membrane bound organelle in thecell that contains degradative enzymes such as proteases, lipases, acid phosphatases, etc. (de Duve, 2005).The term autophagy was coined by Christian de Duve in 1963. Autophagy generally occurs at low level, butit increases under conditions such as stress and differentiation/remodelling of tissues. Autophagy wasprimarily studied by electron microscopy for decades because no molecular markers were available for itsmolecular analysis.
Volume 44 | Issue 6
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