Degradation of cellular material is important for the disposal of unwanted organelles, damaged proteins and pathogens. The degradation products can be recycled in the cell as nutrient and energy supply for cell growth. Malfunction of cellular degradation pathways is associated with various diseases. For example, disrupted degradation of cytoplasmic components is linked to neurological disorders meanwhile increased degradation of cellular material is associated with some types of cancers.
How is cellular degradation regulated and how does it impact diseases such as aggressive cancers?
Degradation of cellular material can take place via the lysosome or proteasome systems. In order to ensure non-random degradation, certain mechanisms exist in the cell to deliver substrates to either system. Autophagy is one such mechanism that involves the formation of a vesicle, termed the autophagosome, which delivers substrates for degradation to the lysosome system.