March 13, 2017 | Science
Scientists study the germline of the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans to identify the mechanisms that control stem cell proliferation and homeostasis, as well as to advance our molecular understanding of homologous signaling pathways humans. Recently, researchers have begun to describe the function of autophagy, a cellular recycling process critical for homeostasis, in germline stem-cell proliferation of C. elegans.
Autophagy is a catabolic process common to all multicellular organisms. It allows cells to break down defective cellular components for reuse. Dr. Alicia Melendez, a biologist at Queens College, City University of New York (CUNY), and her colleagues report in Current Biology that autophagy is important for the proliferation of stem cells, specifically for promoting the cell cycle of stem cell progenitors. Interestingly, this process is active in the cells surrounding the proliferating stem cells.