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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2009 Jan;1792(1):3-13. doi: 10.1016/j.bbadis.2008.10.016. Epub 2008 Nov 5.

Autophagy: principles and significance in health and disease.

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Molecular Cell Biology, Groningen Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology Institute (GBB), University of Groningen, PO Box 14, 9750 AA Haren, The Netherlands.


Degradation processes are important for optimal functioning of eukaryotic cells. The two major protein degradation pathways in eukaryotes are the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway and autophagy. This contribution focuses on autophagy. This process is important for survival of cells during nitrogen starvation conditions but also has a house keeping function in removing exhausted, redundant or unwanted cellular components. We present an overview of the molecular mechanism involved in three major autophagy pathways: chaperone mediated autophagy, microautophagy and macroautophagy. Various recent reports indicate that autophagy plays a crucial role in human health and disease. Examples are presented of lysosomal storage diseases and the role of autophagy in cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, defense against pathogens and cell death.

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