Department of Biomedical Sciences of Cells & Systems, University of Groningen (RUG), University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG)
Autophagy is a highly conserved process for degrading and recycling unwanted and potentially toxic cellular components. The relevance of autophagy in human pathologies has emerged with the discovery that an impairment or a defect in autophagy can cause diseases such as cancer or neurodegenerative disorders. Crucially, modulation of autophagy has been shown that can be used as a therapy to delay the onset of specific diseases, including muscular dystrophies and neurodegeneration.
Autophagy is regulated by specific players, the so-called Atg proteins but despite their relevance, their precise molecular role is still largely unknown. The goal of my research is to study how these players control this pathway. For this purpose, I take advantage of the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model system, because of its amenability to genetic and biochemical approaches. Importantly, autophagy operates in yeast almost identically as in human cells. The ultimate aim of my investigations it to provide the knowledge that will help to manipulate autophagy to the benefit of human health.