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Curr Opin Virol. 2011 Sep;1(3):196-203. doi: 10.1016/j.coviro.2011.05.016.

Autophagy in the control and pathogenesis of viral infection.

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Department of Immunobiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


Autophagy is an evolutionary conserved cell process that plays a central role in eukaryotic cell metabolism. Constitutive autophagy allows cells to ensure their energy needs are met during times of starvation, degrade long-lived cellular proteins, and recycle organelles. In addition, autophagy and its machinery can also be utilized to degrade intracellular pathogens, and this function likely represents one of the earliest eukaryotic defense mechanisms against viral pathogens. Within the past decade, it has become clear that autophagy has not only retained its evolutionary ancient ability to degrade intracellular pathogens, but also has co-evolved with the vertebrate immune system to augment and fine tune antiviral immune responses. Herein, we aim to summarize these recent findings as well as to highlight key unanswered questions of the field.

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