Earlier this week, Yoshinori Ohsumi was awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on the underlying mechanisms of autophagy—the process by which cells break down and recycle their own contents. How does autophagy work? Here are the basics, as drawn for the article “How Cells Clean House,” by Vojo Deretic and Daniel Klionsky (Scientific American, May 2008).


For more on autophagy, listen to Juleen Zierath, chair of the Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine, explain Ohsumi's research on Science Talk.