Cells must utilize nutrient resources as efficiently as possible in order to ensure survival. This involves an intricate balance between the synthesis and degradation of cellular components, the latter of which can be used to liberate metabolites from unneeded components during periods of stress. Autophagy is a key intracellular degradation pathway that is triggered under such conditions. Autophagy captures and transports cellular material to a special compartment called the vacuole (or lysosome in animal cells), where they are degraded to produce basic metabolites such as amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. These metabolites can then be returned to the cytoplasm for reuse by the cell.
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