Int. J. Dev. Biol. 61: 389 - 395 (2017)
doi: 10.1387/ijdb.160461sg
© UPV/EHU Press

Identification and characterization of the autophagy-related genes Atg12 and Atg5 in hydra

Nishikant S. Dixit, Bhupendra V. Shravage* and Surendra Ghaskadbi*

Developmental Biology Group, MACS-Agharkar Research Institute, Pune, India

ABSTRACT Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved process in eukaryotic cells that is involved in the degradation of cytoplasmic contents including organelles via the lysosome. Hydra is an early metazoan which exhibits simple tissue grade organization, a primitive nervous system, and is one of the classical non-bilaterian models extensively used in evo-devo research. Here, we describe the characterization of two core autophagy genes, Atg12 and Atg5, from hydra. In silico analyses including sequence similarity, domain analysis, and phylogenetic analysis demonstrate the conservation of these genes across eukaryotes. The predicted 3D structure of hydra Atg12 showed very little variance when compared to human Atg12 and yeast Atg12, whereas the hydra Atg5 predicted 3D structure was found to be variable, when compared with its human and yeast homologs. Strikingly, whole mount in situ hybridization showed high expression of Atg12 transcripts specifically in nematoblasts, whereas Atg5 transcripts were found to be expressed strongly in budding region and growing buds. This study may provide a framework to understand the evolution of autophagy networks in higher eukaryotes.


autophagy, hydra, Atg12, Atg5

*Corresponding author e-mail:;