Role and regulation of starvation-induced autophagy in the Drosophila fat body

Ryan C. Scott, Oren Schuldiner, Thomas P. Neufeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

731 Scopus citations


In response to starvation, eukaryotic cells recover nutrients through autophagy, a lysosomal-mediated process of cytoplasmic degradation. Autophagy is known to be inhibited by TOR signaling, but the mechanisms of autophagy regulation and its role in TOR-mediated cell growth are unclear. Here, we show that signaling through TOR and its upstream regulators PI3K and Rheb is necessary and sufficient to suppress starvation-induced autophagy in the Drosophila fat body. In contrast, TOR's downstream effector S6K promotes rather than suppresses autophagy, suggesting S6K downregulation may limit autophagy during extended starvation. Despite the catabolic potential of autophagy, disruption of conserved components of the autophagic machinery, including ATG1 and ATG5, does not restore growth to TOR mutant cells. Instead, inhibition of autophagy enhances TOR mutant phenotypes, including reduced cell size, growth rate, and survival. Thus, in cells lacking TOR, autophagy plays a protective role that is dominant over its potential role as a growth suppressor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-178
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental Cell
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Andrea Parrish for excellent technical assistance, N. Ito, E. Hafen, and N. Tapon for reagents, and J. Simon, T. Hays, and members of the Neufeld lab for helpful discussions and comments on the manuscript. This work is supported by NIH grant RO1 GM62509.


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