Author(s): Cui J, Gong Z, Shen HM
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Abstract Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved pathway for degradation of cytoplasmic proteins and organelles via lysosome. Proteins coded by the autophagy-related genes (Atgs) are the core molecular machinery in control of autophagy. Among the various biological functions of autophagy identified so far, the link between autophagy and cancer is probably among the most extensively studied and is often viewed as controversial. Autophagy might exert a dual role in cancer development: autophagy can serve as an anti-tumor mechanism, as defective autophagy (e.g., heterozygous knockdown Beclin 1 and Atg7 in mice) promotes the malignant transformation and spontaneous tumors. On the other hand, autophagy functions as a protective or survival mechanism in cancer cells against cellular stress (e.g., nutrient deprivation, hypoxia and DNA damage) and hence promotes tumorigenesis and causes resistance to therapeutic agents. Liver cancer is one of the common cancers with well-established etiological factors including hepatitis virus infection and environmental carcinogens such as aflatoxin and alcohol exposure. In recent years, the involvement of autophagy in liver cancer has been increasingly studied. Here, we aim to provide a systematic review on the close cross-talks between autophagy and liver cancer, and summarize the current status in development of novel liver cancer therapeutic approaches by targeting autophagy. It is believed that understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the autophagy modulation and liver cancer development may provoke the translational studies that ultimately lead to new therapeutic strategies for liver cancer. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Biochim Biophys Acta
and referenced in Journal of Gastrointestinal & Digestive System