Autophagy is a process of self-digestion that occurs in eukaryotic cells. Autophagy involves the formation of a membrane around a region of the cytoplasm, sequestering macromolecules like proteins and organelles, and the fusion of the resultant vesicle with a lysosome in which the contents are degraded. Through autophagy starving cells degrade materials within their own cells to provide necessary nutrients for more essential processes. Another essential function of autophagy in higher eukaryotes is to remove potentially harmful proteins to protect the cells against diseases and infection by pathogens. Furthermore, autophagy has been suggested to play a role in developmental and anti-aging functions in animal cells. Elucidation of autophagy is thus not only of academic, but also medical interest.