Autophagy is a conserved cellular degradative process important for cellular homoeostasis and survival. An early committal step during the initiation of autophagy requires the actions of a protein kinase called ATG1 (autophagy gene 1). In mammalian cells, ATG1 is represented by ULK1 (uncoordinated-51-like kinase 1), which relies on its essential regulatory cofactors mATG13, FIP200 (focal adhesion kinase family-interacting protein 200 kDa) and ATG101. Much evidence indicates that mTORC1 [mechanistic (also known as mammalian) target of rapamycin complex 1] signals downstream to the ULK1 complex to negatively regulate autophagy. In this chapter, we discuss our understanding on how the mTORC1-ULK1 signalling axis drives the initial steps of autophagy induction. We conclude with a summary of our growing appreciation of the additional cellular pathways that interconnect with the core mTORC1-ULK1 signalling module.
- signal transduction