We are studying the molecular mechanism of macroautophagy in the model organism S. cerevisiae.
Macroautophagy is a recycling pathway, which sequesters cytosol, aggregates and superflous or damaged organelles into double membraned autophagosomes. Fusion of autophagosomes with the lysosome (vacuole) then release membrane-enclosed autophagic bodies into the vacuole. Finally the autophagic body membrane is lysed and broken down together with the cargo. Macroautophagy plays crucial roles in cancer, neurodegeneration, ageing, programmed cell death, removal of intracellular pathogens and presentation of antigens via MHC-II.
The molecular mechanism of autophagy is very unique due to the use of double membraned transport vesicles.
For review see: Farré JC, Krick R, Subramani S, Thumm M, Current Opinion in Cell Biology (2009), 21, 522-30.