chapter  15
Mammalian Homologues of Yeast Autophagy Proteins
Pages 6

However, the molecular basis underlying mammalian autophagy had remained cryptic until quite recently because of the difficulty in addressing this problem through a biochemical ap­ proach. As has been the case in other fields of membrane trafficking, a breakthrough came from the application of yeast genetics; more than 15 genes essential for yeast autophagy, AUT and APG were identified from genetic screens in yeast (see chapters 6 and 7). Database searches revealed that for most of the APG znàA UT gene products there are related proteins in mam­ mals, suggesting that the molecular machinery of autophagy may be conserved through evolu­ tion. The homologues are good candidates for functional counterparts of the yeast proteins and recent investigation of some of them revealed that they are actually involved in mamma­ lian autophagy. The identification of the homologues has begun a great expansion of our knowl­ edge about the molecular mechanism of autophagy, in particular as it relates to topics that are specific to mammalian cells.