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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Mar 1982; 79(6): 1889–1892.
PMCID: PMC346086

3-Methyladenine: Specific inhibitor of autophagic/lysosomal protein degradation in isolated rat hepatocytes


3-Methyladenine (5 mM) inhibits endogenous protein degradation in isolated rat hepatocytes by about 60%, while having no adverse effect on the degradation of an exogenous protein (asialofetuin), on protein synthesis, or on intracellular ATP levels. 3-Methyladenine appears to act specifically upon the autophagic/lysosomal pathway of degradation, as judged from its lack of effect in the presence of amino acids or a lysosomotropic amine (propylamine). The effect of the purine is not mediated by amino acids because the inhibition of protein degradation is accompanied by a significant depression of intracellular amino acid levels. The ability of 3-methyladenine to suppress the formation of electron microscopically visible autophagosomes suggests that it may be regarded as a specific inhibitor of autophagy.

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