Autophagy in development and regeneration: role in tissue remodelling and cell survival

G. Tettamanti, E. Carata, A. Montali, L. Dini, G. M. Fimia

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Morphogenetic events that occur during development and regeneration are energy demanding processes requiring profound rearrangements in cell architecture, which need to be coordinated in timely fashion with other cellular activities, such as proliferation, migration and differentiation. In the last 15 years, it has become evident that autophagy, an evolutionarily-conserved catabolic process that mediates the lysosomal turnover of organelles and macromolecules, is an essential “tool” to ensure remodelling events that occur at cellular and tissue levels. Indeed, studies in several model organisms have shown that the inactivation of autophagy genes has a significant impact on embryogenesis and tissue regeneration, leading to extensive cell death and persistence of unnecessary cell components. Interestingly, the increased understanding of the mechanisms that confers selectivity to the autophagic process has also contributed to identifying development-specific targets of autophagy across species. Moreover, alternative ways to deliver materials to the lysosome, such as microautophagy, are also emerging as key actors in these contexts, providing a more complete view of how the cell component repertoire is renovated. In this review, we discuss the role of different types of autophagy in development and regeneration of invertebrates and vertebrates, focusing in particular on its contribution in cnidarians, platyhelminthes, nematodes, insects, zebrafish and mammals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-131
Number of pages19
JournalEuropean Zoological Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Autophagy
  • development
  • invertebrates
  • regeneration
  • vertebrates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology

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