The Eskelinen group aims to understand membrane dynamics during autophagosome biogenesis.
Autophagy is a lysosomal degradation pathway for cytoplasmic material and organelles that maintains cellular homeostasis during nutrient deprivation and stress. Autophagy is an important survival mechanism during short-term starvation: by degrading non-essential components, cells acquire nutrients for energy production and vital biosynthetic reactions. Autophagy also contributes to the clearance of damaged organelles and aggregate-prone proteins, protection against metabolic stress and DNA damage, and even to longevity of the organism. Defective autophagy has been connected to many human diseases including cancer, myopathies, metabolic diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases.
In macroautophagy, autophagosomes are formed in a subcompartment of the endoplasmic reticulum. A flat membrane cistern called the phagophore emerges first, which then elongates and forms a double-membrane bound autophagosome. Autophagosomes acquire hydrolytic capacity by fusing with endosomes and lysosomes. The origin of phagophore and autophagosome membranes is one of the longest lasting open questions in the field. We address this question using three-dimensional electron microscopy, live-cell imaging and correlative light-electron microscopy.
Highlighted publications of Eskelinen group are listed here.