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EMBO J. 2010 Feb 3;29(3):515-6. doi: 10.1038/emboj.2009.377.

Crosstalk between apoptosis and autophagy within the Beclin 1 interactome.

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INSERM U848, Institut G Roussy, Villejuif, France.


Although the essential genes for autophagy (Atg) have been identified, the molecular mechanisms through which Atg proteins control 'self eating' in mammalian cells remain elusive. Beclin 1 (Bec1), the mammalian orthologue of yeast Atg6, is part of the class III phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) complex that induces autophagy. The first among an increasing number of Bec1-interacting proteins that has been identified is the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-2. The dissociation of Bec1 from Bcl-2 is essential for its autophagic activity, and Bcl-2 only inhibits autophagy when it is present in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). A paper in this issue of the EMBO Journal has identified a novel protein, NAF-1 (nutrient-deprivation autophagy factor-1), that binds Bcl-2 at the ER. NAF-1 is a component of the inositol-1,4,5 trisphosphate (IP3) receptor complex, which contributes to the interaction of Bcl-2 with Bec1 and is required for Bcl-2 to functionally antagonize Bec1-mediated autophagy. This work provides mechanistic insights into how autophagy- and apoptosis-regulatory molecules crosstalk at the ER.

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