Autophagy in Plants: Both a Puppet and a Puppet Master of Sugars

Henry Christopher Janse van Rensburg, Wim Van den Ende, Santiago Signorelli

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Autophagy is a major pathway that recycles cellular components in eukaryotic cells both under stressed and non-stressed conditions. Sugars participate both metabolically and as signaling molecules in development and response to various environmental and nutritional conditions. It is therefore essential to maintain metabolic homeostasis of sugars during non-stressed conditions in cells, not only to provide energy, but also to ensure effective signaling when exposed to stress. In both plants and animals, autophagy is activated by the energy sensor SnRK1/AMPK and inhibited by TOR kinase. SnRK1/AMPK and TOR kinases are both important regulators of cellular metabolism and are controlled to a large extent by the availability of sugars and sugar-phosphates in plants whereas in animals AMP/ATP indirectly translate sugar status. In plants, during nutrient and sugar deficiency, SnRK1 is activated, and TOR is inhibited to allow activation of autophagy which in turn recycles cellular components in an attempt to provide stress relief. Autophagy is thus indirectly regulated by the nutrient/sugar status of cells, but also regulates the level of nutrients/sugars by recycling cellular components. In both plants and animals sugars such as trehalose induce autophagy and in animals this is independent of the TOR pathway. The glucose-activated G-protein signaling pathway has also been demonstrated to activate autophagy, although the exact mechanism is not completely clear. This mini-review will focus on the interplay between sugar signaling and autophagy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14
Number of pages10
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Autophagy in Plants: Both a Puppet and a Puppet Master of Sugars'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this