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International Journal of Cell Biology
Volume 2012, Article ID 431684, 18 pages
Review Article

The Many Faces of Mitochondrial Autophagy: Making Sense of Contrasting Observations in Recent Research

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Monash University, Clayton Campus, Clayton VIC 3800, Australia

Received 14 November 2011; Accepted 21 December 2011

Academic Editor: Fulvio Reggiori

Copyright © 2012 Alexander I. May et al. 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.


Research into the selective autophagic degradation of mitochondria—mitophagy—has intensified in recent years, yielding significant insights into the function, mechanism, and regulation of this process in the eukaryotic cell. However, while some molecular players in budding yeast, such as Atg32p, Uth1p, and Aup1p, have been identified, studies further interrogating the mechanistic and regulatory features of mitophagy have yielded inconsistent and sometimes conflicting results. In this review, we focus on the current understanding of mitophagy mechanism, induction, and regulation in yeast, and suggest that differences in experimental conditions used in the various studies of mitophagy may contribute to the observed discrepancies. Consideration and understanding of these differences may help place the mechanism and regulation of mitophagy in context, and further indicate the intricate role that this essential process plays in the life and death of eukaryotic cells.