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International Journal of Cell Biology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 142634, 8 pages
Review Article

The Cytoplasm-to-Vacuole Targeting Pathway: A Historical Perspective

Life Sciences Institute, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2216, USA

Received 12 October 2011; Accepted 8 December 2011

Academic Editor: Fulvio Reggiori

Copyright © 2012 Midori Umekawa and Daniel J. Klionsky. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


From today's perspective, it is obvious that macroautophagy (hereafter autophagy) is an important pathway that is connected to a range of developmental and physiological processes. This viewpoint, however, is relatively recent, coinciding with the molecular identification of autophagy-related (Atg) components that function as the protein machinery that drives the dynamic membrane events of autophagy. It may be difficult, especially for scientists new to this area of research, to appreciate that the field of autophagy long existed as a “backwater” topic that attracted little interest or attention. Paralleling the development of the autophagy field was the identification and analysis of the cytoplasm-to-vacuole targeting (Cvt) pathway, the only characterized biosynthetic route that utilizes the Atg proteins. Here, we relate some of the initial history, including some never-before-revealed facts, of the analysis of the Cvt pathway and the convergence of those studies with autophagy.