A Summary of Autophagy Mechanisms in Cancer Cells

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Reza Sahebi
Nazanin Akbari
Zeynab Bayat
Mohammad Rashidmayvan
Amin Mansoori
Maria Beihaghi


Autophagy is a well-known vital process in cells and plays a significant role in biological evolution, the immune system, and cell death. It can be effective in fatal disorders, such as nervous system degeneration, autoimmune diseases, and cancer. Autophagy has a dual role; on the one hand, it increases cell survival, and on the other hand, it causes cell death in advanced stages although no agreement has yet been accomplished on the role of autophagy in cellular processes. There is evidence that autophagic signaling regulation is inversely related to oncogenic signaling. Numerous commonly activated oncogenes (class I PtdIns3K, Akt, TOR, Bcl-2) inhibit autophagy, while commonly mutated or epigenetically silenced tumor suppressor genes (p53, PTEN, TSC1/TSC2) promote autophagy. Autophagy promotes cancer progression by supplying sufficient nutrients that enable cancer cell growth. FIP200, a related- autophagy protein, interacts with ATG 13 and induces autophagy. Increased autophagy causes the interaction of Becklin 118 with HER2, resulting in an increase in tumorigenesis. In order to make complete use of the autophagic properties in cancer treatment, further studies on its role in disease in the different biologics fields are essential. Cancer stem cells (CSCs) can regenerate, cause cancer, and enhance resistance to treatment, metastasis, and recurrence. Autophagy moderates stressful conditions and promotes resistance to anticancer therapy. In addition, autophagy regulates the ability of radiation in CSCs and leads to failure in anticancer therapies. Hence, autophagy is a potential therapeutic target for metastasis resistance and anticancer therapy recurrence. Regulation of autophagy using autophagy modulators alone does not improve the therapeutic effects of anticancer reagents. In contrast, it has supplied nutrients for cancer cells. Consequently, clinical trials aiming for autophagy through a combination of autophagy modulations and anticancer reagents are crucial to consider autophagy as a potentially effective therapeutic strategy in anticancer therapy.

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Sahebi, R., Akbari, N., Bayat, Z., Rashidmayvan, M., Mansoori, A., & Beihaghi, M. (2022). A Summary of Autophagy Mechanisms in Cancer Cells. Research in Biotechnology and Environmental Science, 1(1), 28–35. https://doi.org/10.58803/RBES.2022.1.1.06
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