Autophagy and apoptosis: what is the connection?
ABSTRACT The therapeutic potential of autophagy for the treatment cancer and other diseases is beset by paradoxes stemming from the complexity of the interactions between the apoptotic and autophagic machinery. The simplest question of how autophagy acts as both a protector and executioner of cell death remains the subject of substantial controversy. Elucidating the molecular interactions between the processes will help us understand how autophagy can modulate cell death, whether autophagy is truly a cell death mechanism, and how these functions are regulated. We suggest that, despite many connections between autophagy and apoptosis, a strong causal relationship wherein one process controls the other, has not been demonstrated adequately. Knowing when and how to modulate autophagy therapeutically depends on understanding these connections.
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ABSTRACT: Autophagy, an evolutionarily conserved process, has functions both in cytoprotective and programmed cell death mechanisms. Beclin 1, an essential autophagic protein, was recently identified as a BH3-domain-only protein that binds to Bcl-2 anti-apoptotic family members. The dissociation of beclin 1 from its Bcl-2 inhibitors is essential for its autophagic activity, and therefore should be tightly controlled. Here, we show that death-associated protein kinase (DAPK) regulates this process. The activated form of DAPK triggers autophagy in a beclin-1-dependent manner. DAPK phosphorylates beclin 1 on Thr 119 located at a crucial position within its BH3 domain, and thus promotes the dissociation of beclin 1 from Bcl-XL and the induction of autophagy. These results reveal a substrate for DAPK that acts as one of the core proteins of the autophagic machinery, and they provide a new phosphorylation-based mechanism that reduces the interaction of beclin 1 with its inhibitors to activate the autophagic machinery.EMBO Reports 02/2009; 10(3):285-92. · 7.19 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Allelic loss of the essential autophagy gene beclin1 occurs in human cancers and renders mice tumor-prone suggesting that autophagy is a tumor-suppression mechanism. While tumor cells utilize autophagy to survive metabolic stress, autophagy also mitigates the resulting cellular damage that may limit tumorigenesis. In response to stress, autophagy-defective tumor cells preferentially accumulated p62/SQSTM1 (p62), endoplasmic reticulum (ER) chaperones, damaged mitochondria, reactive oxygen species (ROS), and genome damage. Moreover, suppressing ROS or p62 accumulation prevented damage resulting from autophagy defects indicating that failure to regulate p62 caused oxidative stress. Importantly, sustained p62 expression resulting from autophagy defects was sufficient to alter NF-kappaB regulation and gene expression and to promote tumorigenesis. Thus, defective autophagy is a mechanism for p62 upregulation commonly observed in human tumors that contributes directly to tumorigenesis likely by perturbing the signal transduction adaptor function of p62-controlling pathways critical for oncogenesis.Cell 07/2009; 137(6):1062-75. · 31.96 Impact Factor
Article: Autophagy: process and function.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Autophagy is an intracellular degradation system that delivers cytoplasmic constituents to the lysosome. Despite its simplicity, recent progress has demonstrated that autophagy plays a wide variety of physiological and pathophysiological roles, which are sometimes complex. Autophagy consists of several sequential steps--sequestration, transport to lysosomes, degradation, and utilization of degradation products--and each step may exert different function. In this review, the process of autophagy is summarized, and the role of autophagy is discussed in a process-based manner.Genes & Development 12/2007; 21(22):2861-73. · 12.44 Impact Factor