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Autophagy. 2009 May;5(4):578-9. Epub 2009 May 6.

Expression of a viral oncoprotein in normal human epithelial cells triggers an autophagy-related process: is autophagy an "Achilles' heel" of human cancers?

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Department of Medicine, Infectious Diseases Division, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 181 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Normal human epithelial cells that express the human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV16) E7 oncoprotein show evidence of autophagy, and when deprived of growth factors they undergo cell death. We hypothesize that the process of autophagy renders such cells particularly vulnerable to cell death and suggest that autophagy induced as a consequence of uncontrolled proliferation and changes in metabolism may represent an "Achilles' heel" of human cancers and serve as a target for cancer therapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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