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Cell Biology and Toxicology

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 145–168 | Cite as

Autophagy—from molecular mechanisms to clinical relevance

  • Mónika Lippai
  • Zsuzsanna SzatmáriEmail author
Article

Abstract

Autophagy is a lysosomal degradation pathway of eukaryotic cells that is highly conserved from yeast to mammals. During this process, cooperating protein complexes are recruited in a hierarchic order to the phagophore assembly site (PAS) to mediate the elongation and closure of double-membrane vesicles called autophagosomes, which sequester cytosolic components and deliver their content to the endolysosomal system for degradation. As a major cytoprotective mechanism, autophagy plays a key role in the stress response against nutrient starvation, hypoxia, and infections. Although numerous studies reported that impaired function of core autophagy proteins also contributes to the development and progression of various human diseases such as neurodegenerative disorders, cardiovascular and muscle diseases, infections, and different types of cancer, the function of this process in human diseases remains unclear. Evidence often suggests a controversial role for autophagy in the pathomechanisms of these severe disorders. Here, we provide an overview of the molecular mechanisms of autophagy and summarize the recent advances on its function in human health and disease.

Keywords

Autophagy Cancer Cardiovascular disease Infection Neurodegenerative disease 

Abbreviations

AD

Alzheimer’s disease

ALS

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

ATG

Autophagy related

CM

Cardiomyopathy

GAP

GTPase activating protein

GAS

Group A Streptococcus

GDP

Guanosine diphosphate

GEF

Guanosine nucleotide exchange factor

GTP

Guanosine triphosphate

HD

Huntington’s disease

HF

Heart failure

HIV

Human immunodeficiency virus

HOPS

Homotypic fusion and vacuole protein sorting

KSHV

Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus

(m)TOR

(Mechanistic/mammalian) target of rapamycin

(MAP1)LC3

(Microtubule-associated protein 1) light chain 3

(m)TORC1

(Mechanistic/mammalian) TOR complex 1

PAS

Pre-autophagosomal structure or phagophore assembly site

PD

Parkinson’s disease

PI3P

Phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate

SENDA

Static encephalopathy of childhood with neurodegeneration in adulthood

SNARE

Soluble NSF Attachment Protein (SNAP) receptor

ULK

unc51-like kinase

UVRAG

Ultra violet radiation resistance associated gene

VPS

Vacuolar protein sorting

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anatomy, Cell and Developmental BiologyEötvös Loránd UniversityBudapestHungary

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