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Autophagy. 2011 May;7(5):549-51. Epub 2011 May 1.

MCL-1 regulates the balance between autophagy and apoptosis.

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Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada.


BCL-2 homologues lie at the interface between apoptosis and autophagy, regulating these two critical cellular pathways. However, the mechanisms controlling their coordinate regulation and the consequences on cellular survival are not fully understood. We recently showed that MCL-1 is a critical regulator of autophagy in cell lines and neurons. Our findings indicate that activation of apoptosis and autophagy is controlled in a developmentally regulated manner. In addition, the fact that MCL-1 null neurons die in an autophagy-dependent manner suggests that while a basal level of autophagy is required for neuronal survival, its sustained activation may be detrimental. This could have major implications for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases using strategies involving activation of autophagy to clear protein aggregates from the brain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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