Autophagy and microtubules - new story, old players

Rafah Mackeh, Daniel Perdiz, Séverine Lorin, Patrice Codogno, Christian Poüs

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

87 Citations (Scopus)


Both at a basal level and after induction (especially in response to nutrient starvation), the function of autophagy is to allow cells to degrade and recycle damaged organelles, proteins and other biological constituents. Here, we focus on the role microtubules have in autophagosome formation, autophagosome transport across the cytoplasm and in the formation of autolysosomes. Recent insights into the exact relationship between autophagy and microtubules now point to the importance of microtubule dynamics, tubulin posttranslational modifications and microtubule motors in the autophagy process. Such factors regulate signaling pathways that converge to stimulate autophagosome formation. They also orchestrate the movements of pre-autophagosomal structures and autophagosomes or more globally organize and localize immature and mature autophagosomes and lysosomes. Most of the factors that now appear to link microtubules to autophagosome formation or to autophagosome dynamics and fate were identified initially without the notion that sequestration, recruitment and/or interaction with microtubules contribute to their function. Spatial and temporal coordination of many stages in the life of autophagosomes thus underlines the integrative role of microtubules and progressively reveals hidden parts of the autophagy machinery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1071-1080
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes



  • Acetylation
  • Cell signaling
  • Lysosome
  • Macroautophagy
  • Microtubule
  • Molecular motor
  • Phagocytosis
  • Phagophore

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology

Cite this

Mackeh, R., Perdiz, D., Lorin, S., Codogno, P., & Poüs, C. (2013). Autophagy and microtubules - new story, old players. Journal of Cell Science, 126(5), 1071-1080.