Lipid droplets are ubiquitous organelles in eukaryotes that act as storage sites for neutral lipids. Under normal growth conditions, they are not required in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. However, recent works have shown that lipid droplets are required for autophagy to proceed in response to nitrogen starvation and that they play an essential role in maintaining ER homeostasis. Autophagy is a major catabolic pathway that helps degradation and recycling of potentially harmful proteins and organelles. It can be pharmacologically induced by rapamycin even in the absence of lipid droplets. Here, we show that amino acid starvation is responsible for autophagy failure in lipid droplet-deficient yeast. It not only fails to induce autophagy but also inhibits rapamycin-induced autophagy. The general amino acid control pathway is not involved in this paradoxical effect of amino acid shortage. We correlate the autophagy failure with mitochondria aggregation and we show that amino acid starvation-induced autophagy is restored in lipid droplet-deficient yeast by increasing mitochondrial biomass physiologically (respiration) or genetically (REG1 deletion). Our results establish a new functional link between lipid droplets, ER and mitochondria during nitrogen starvation-induced autophagy.

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