Liquid–liquid phase separation (LLPS) compartmentalizes and concentrates biomacromolecules into distinct condensates. Liquid-like condensates can transition into gel and solid states, which are essential for fulfilling their different functions. LLPS plays important roles in multiple steps of autophagy, mediating the assembly of autophagosome formation sites, acting as an unconventional modulator of TORC1-mediated autophagy regulation, and triaging protein cargos for degradation. Gel-like, but not solid, protein condensates can trigger formation of surrounding autophagosomal membranes. Stress and pathological conditions cause aberrant phase separation and transition of condensates, which can evade surveillance by the autophagy machinery. Understanding the mechanisms underlying phase separation and transition will provide potential therapeutic targets for protein aggregation diseases.

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