Autophagy is a conserved degradative process that is crucial for cellular homeostasis and cellular quality control via the selective removal of subcellular structures such as mitochondria. We demonstrate that a regulatory link exists between mitochondrial function and autophagy in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. During amino-acid starvation, the autophagic response consists of two independent regulatory arms-autophagy gene induction and autophagic flux-and our analysis indicates that mitochondrial respiratory deficiency severely compromises both. We show that the evolutionarily conserved protein kinases Atg1, target of rapamycin kinase complex I, and protein kinase A (PKA) regulate autophagic flux, whereas autophagy gene induction depends solely on PKA. Within this regulatory network, mitochondrial respiratory deficiency suppresses autophagic flux, autophagy gene induction, and recruitment of the Atg1-Atg13 kinase complex to the pre-autophagosomal structure by stimulating PKA activity. Our findings indicate an interrelation of two common risk factors-mitochondrial dysfunction and autophagy inhibition-for ageing, cancerogenesis, and neurodegeneration.
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