Cellular degradation process called autophagy often deployed in stress responses is involved in wound healing
To re-build, life must first clean away. Here, a fruit fly (Drosophila) embryo heals damage to one of its cells. The debris is eaten away by a recycling process known as autophagy, but the careful destruction doesn’t stop there. Researchers find structures called autophagosomes (orange) help to bite holes in the membranes of surrounding cells (green), which then join to form a syncytium – a sort of collaborate cell which plugs the gap in the tissue. Autophagy, and proteins involved such as TORC-1, may use syncytia to form stronger protective membranes around the sites of healing wounds. There are similar cells in developing muscles, and with increasing frequency as we age. With the partnership between clearing away and building in their minds, the team are now looking at how autophagy helps to renew and refresh membranes at different stages of life.
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