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Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2010 Apr;22(2):226-33. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2009 Nov 28.

Autophagy genes as tumor suppressors.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90033, USA.


Autophagy, originally described as a universal lysosome-dependent bulk degradation of cytoplasmic components upon nutrient deprivation, has since been shown to influence diverse aspects of homeostasis and is implicated in a wide variety of pathological conditions, including cancer. The list of autophagy-related (Atg) genes associated with the initiation and progression of human cancer as well as with responses to cancer therapy continues to grow as these genes are being discovered. However, whether Atg genes work through their expected mechanisms of autophagy regulation and/or through as-yet-undefined functions in the development of cancer remains to be further clarified. Here we review recent advances in the knowledge of the molecular basis of autophagy genes and their biological outputs during tumor development. A better understanding of the mechanistic link between cellular autophagy and tumor growth control may ultimately better human cancer treatments.

Copyright 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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