Autophagy (from the Greek, meaning ‘to eat oneself’) is the cell’s housekeeping mechanism to engulf and degrade long-lived proteins, macromolecular aggregates, damaged organelles and even microbes in double-membrane vesicles called autophagosomes. In our group, we investigate the molecular structures involved in autophagy as they provide fundamental insights for our understanding of aberrant cellular processes like cancer, ageing or infection.
Multiprotein complexes are essential mediators in the events leading to autophagy. On the structural level, however, little is known about their 3D architecture. Fundamental questions on the nature of these complexes need to be addressed:
- How are protein deposits structurally linked to autophagy?
- What are the shapes of these multiprotein assemblies at the membrane?
- How do they give rise to the cellular structure of the autophagosome?