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Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2010 Sep;21(7):712-8. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2010.04.004. Epub 2010 Apr 18.

Autophagy and HIV.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, 915 Camino de Salud NE, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA.


Autophagy is a key cytoplasmic biomass and organellar quality and quantity control pathway of the eukaryotic cell. It is particularly suited to capture and degrade large, multi-macromolecular cytosplasmic targets earmarked for degradation or turnover. Typical autophagic cargos represent large swaths of cytosol as a source of energy and anabolic precursors at times of growth restrictions imposed by the absence of growth factors, nutrient limitation or hypoxia. Autophagy is the only effective mechanism for removal of whole organelles such as leaky or surplus mitochondria, disposal of potentially toxic protein aggregates too large for proteasomal removal, and elimination of intracellular microbes including bacteria, protozoa and viruses. Recent studies have shown that human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is targeted for eliminated by autophagy but that this is countered by the viral protein Nef. Here we review these relationships and underscore the untapped potential of autophagy as a druggable antiviral process.

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