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International Journal of Cell Biology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 512721, 18 pages
Review Article

Pexophagy: The Selective Degradation of Peroxisomes

Section of Molecular Biology, Division of Biological Sciences, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0322, USA

Received 16 October 2011; Accepted 23 November 2011

Academic Editor: Masaaki Komatsu

Copyright © 2012 Andreas Till 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.


Peroxisomes are single-membrane-bounded organelles present in the majority of eukaryotic cells. Despite the existence of great diversity among different species, cell types, and under different environmental conditions, peroxisomes contain enzymes involved in β-oxidation of fatty acids and the generation, as well as detoxification, of hydrogen peroxide. The exigency of all eukaryotic cells to quickly adapt to different environmental factors requires the ability to precisely and efficiently control peroxisome number and functionality. Peroxisome homeostasis is achieved by the counterbalance between organelle biogenesis and degradation. The selective degradation of superfluous or damaged peroxisomes is facilitated by several tightly regulated pathways. The most prominent peroxisome degradation system uses components of the general autophagy core machinery and is therefore referred to as “pexophagy.” In this paper we focus on recent developments in pexophagy and provide an overview of current knowledge and future challenges in the field. We compare different modes of pexophagy and mention shared and distinct features of pexophagy in yeast model systems, mammalian cells, and other organisms.