Autophagy - the cell eats itself

Autophagy is a process by which components of the cytoplasm are sequestered within a specialised vacuole, degraded and recycled.  This involves initiation and control of a complex group of interacting proteins and membrane recruitment and handling.

We are investigating the role of autophagy in removing invasive bacteria from within mammalian cells. In particular we want to understand how the cell senses invading bacteria and directs the defensive autophagic response.

The autophagosome (white crescent) is built around bacterial cargo by a coordinated series of Atg (autophagy) protein complexes. FNBP1L (black) is essential for anti-bacterial autophagy and bridges the autophagic membrane extension machinery and the bacterial cargo.

We have previously identified cellular components essential for anti-bacterial autophagy, including FNBP1L - an ATG3-interacting, and putative membrane bending, protein.

Currently we are completing research into the identity of the critical ubiquitin ligase that ubiquitinates intracellular Salmonella to trigger anti-bacterial autophagy.