Autophagy is a non-selective degradation process in eukaryotic cells. The genome sequence of the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe has revealed that many of the genes required for autophagy are common between the fission yeast and budding yeast, suggesting that the basic machinery of autophagy is conserved between these species. Autophagy in fission yeast is specifically induced by nitrogen starvation based on monitoring a GFP-Atg8p marker. Upon nitrogen starvation, fission yeast cells exit the vegetative cell cycle and initiate sexual differentiation to produce spores. Most of the nitrogen used for de novo protein synthesis during sporulation derives from the autophagic protein degradation system. This review focuses on the recent advances in the role of autophagy in fission yeast.
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