Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2012 Jun 1;4(6). pii: a008813. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a008813.

Regulation and function of autophagy during cell survival and cell death.

Author information

Department of Cancer Biology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, 01605, USA.


Autophagy is an important catabolic process that delivers cytoplasmic material to the lysosome for degradation. Autophagy promotes cell survival by elimination of damaged organelles and proteins aggregates, as well as by facilitating bioenergetic homeostasis. Although autophagy has been considered a cell survival mechanism, recent studies have shown that autophagy can promote cell death. The core mechanisms that control autophagy are conserved between yeast and humans, but animals also possess genes that regulate autophagy that are not present in yeast. These regulatory differences may be explained by the need to control autophagy in a cell context-specific manner in multicellular animals, such as during cell survival and cell death. Autophagy was thought to be a bulk cytoplasmic degradation mechanism, but recent studies have shown that specific cargo is recruited for degradation. This suggests the possibility that either cell survival or death may be regulated by selective autophagic clearance of cytoplasmic material. Here we summarize the mechanisms that regulate autophagy and how they may contribute to cell survival and death.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center