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Methods Enzymol. 2009;453:83-110. doi: 10.1016/S0076-6879(08)04005-6.

Autophagic clearance of aggregate-prone proteins associated with neurodegeneration.

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Department of Medical Genetics, University of Cambridge, Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, UK.


Autophagy has emerged as a field of rapidly growing interest with implications in several disease conditions, such as cancer, infectious diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases. Autophagy is a major degradation pathway for aggregate-prone, intracytosolic proteins causing neurodegenerative disorders, such as Huntington's disease and forms of Parkinson's disease. Up-regulating autophagy may be a tractable therapeutic intervention for clearing these disease-causing proteins. The identification of autophagy-enhancing compounds would be beneficial not only in neurodegenerative diseases but also in other conditions where up-regulating autophagy may act as a protective pathway. Furthermore, small molecule modulators of autophagy may also be useful in dissecting pathways governing mammalian autophagy. In this chapter, we highlight assays that can be used for the identification of autophagy regulators, such as measuring the clearance of mutant aggregate-prone proteins or of autophagic flux with bafilomycin A(1). Using these methods, we recently described several mTOR-independent autophagy-enhancing compounds that have protective effects in various models of Huntington's disease.

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