Autophagy's secret life: secretion instead of degradation.
Autophagy is conventionally described as a degradative, catabolic pathway and a tributary to the lysosomal system where the cytoplasmic material sequestered by autophagosomes gets degraded. However, autophagosomes or autophagosome-related organelles do not always follow this route. It has recently come to light that autophagy can terminate in cytosolic protein secretion or release of sequestered material from the cells, rather than in their degradation. In this review, we address this relatively new but growing aspect of autophagy as a complex pathway, which is far more versatile than originally anticipated.