Somatic cell reprogramming is a complex feature that allows differentiated cells to undergo fate changes into different cell types. This process, which is conserved between plants and animals, is often achieved via dedifferentiation into pluripotent stem cells, which have the ability to generate all other types of cells and tissues of a given organism. Cellular reprogramming is thus a complex process that requires extensive modification at the epigenetic and transcriptional level, unlocking cellular programs that allow cells to acquire pluripotency. In addition to alterations in the gene expression profile, cellular reprogramming requires rearrangement of the proteome, organelles and metabolism, but these changes are comparatively less studied. In this context, autophagy, a cellular catabolic process that participates in the recycling of intracellular constituents, has the capacity to affect different aspects of cellular reprogramming, including the removal of protein signatures that might hamper reprogramming, mitophagy associated with metabolic reprogramming, and the supply of energy and metabolic building blocks to cells that undergo fate changes. In this Review, we discuss advances in our understanding of the role of autophagy during cellular reprogramming by drawing comparisons between plant and animal studies, as well as highlighting aspects of the topic that warrant further research.

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