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Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Apr;24(4):209-17. doi: 10.1016/j.tem.2013.01.008. Epub 2013 Mar 6.

Autophagy: a targetable linchpin of cancer cell metabolism.

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Department of Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Cancer cells display several features of aberrant cellular metabolism. Two consequences of this dysregulated metabolism are rapid depletion of intracellular nutrients and a buildup of aggregated proteins and damaged organelles. Autophagy provides a mechanism for recycling proteins, lipids, and organelles. In cancer cells, oncogenes and conditions of severe stress drive profound upregulation of autophagy. In this setting, autophagy ameliorates the ill effects of dysregulated cellular metabolism, allowing a steady supply of nutrients and removal of damaged organelles. Although therapeutic strategies targeting cancer cell metabolism and autophagy are already entering clinical trials, further study of the precise mechanisms of interplay between oncogenic signaling, cellular metabolism, and autophagy will provide more effective strategies in the future.

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