Author(s): Chen N, KarantzaWadsworth V
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Abstract Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved process whereby cytoplasm and cellular organelles are degraded in lysosomes for amino acid and energy recycling. Autophagy is a survival pathway activated in response to nutrient deprivation and other stressful stimuli, such as metabolic stress and exposure to anticancer drugs. However, autophagy may also result in cell death, if it proceeds to completion. Defective autophagy is implicated in tumorigenesis, as the essential autophagy regulator beclin 1 is monoallelically deleted in human breast, ovarian and prostate cancers, and beclin 1(+/-) mice are tumor-prone. How autophagy suppresses tumorigenesis is under intense investigation. Cell-autonomous mechanisms, involving protection of genome integrity and stability, and a non-cell-autonomous mechanism, involving suppression of necrosis and inflammation, have been discovered so far. The role of autophagy in treatment responsiveness is also complex. Autophagy inhibition concurrently with chemotherapy or radiotherapy has emerged as a novel approach in cancer treatment, as autophagy-competent tumor cells depend on autophagy for survival under drug- and radiation-induced stress. Alternatively, autophagy stimulation and preservation of cellular fitness by maintenance of protein and organelle quality control, suppression of DNA damage and genomic instability, and limitation of necrosis-associated inflammation may play a critical role in cancer prevention.
This article was published in Biochim Biophys Acta
and referenced in Journal of Nuclear Medicine & Radiation Therapy