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1.  Egr-1 Regulates Autophagy in Cigarette Smoke-Induced Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(10):e3316.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive lung disease characterized by abnormal cellular responses to cigarette smoke, resulting in tissue destruction and airflow limitation. Autophagy is a degradative process involving lysosomal turnover of cellular components, though its role in human diseases remains unclear.
Methodology and Principal Findings
Increased autophagy was observed in lung tissue from COPD patients, as indicated by electron microscopic analysis, as well as by increased activation of autophagic proteins (microtubule-associated protein-1 light chain-3B, LC3B, Atg4, Atg5/12, Atg7). Cigarette smoke extract (CSE) is an established model for studying the effects of cigarette smoke exposure in vitro. In human pulmonary epithelial cells, exposure to CSE or histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor rapidly induced autophagy. CSE decreased HDAC activity, resulting in increased binding of early growth response-1 (Egr-1) and E2F factors to the autophagy gene LC3B promoter, and increased LC3B expression. Knockdown of E2F-4 or Egr-1 inhibited CSE-induced LC3B expression. Knockdown of Egr-1 also inhibited the expression of Atg4B, a critical factor for LC3B conversion. Inhibition of autophagy by LC3B-knockdown protected epithelial cells from CSE-induced apoptosis. Egr-1−/− mice, which displayed basal airspace enlargement, resisted cigarette-smoke induced autophagy, apoptosis, and emphysema.
We demonstrate a critical role for Egr-1 in promoting autophagy and apoptosis in response to cigarette smoke exposure in vitro and in vivo. The induction of autophagy at early stages of COPD progression suggests novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of cigarette smoke induced lung injury.
PMCID: PMC2552992  PMID: 18830406
2.  Insufficient autophagy promotes bronchial epithelial cell senescence in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
Oncoimmunology  2012;1(5):630-641.
Tobacco smoke-induced accelerated cell senescence has been implicated in the pathogenesis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Cell senescence is accompanied by the accumulation of damaged cellular components suggesting that in COPD, inhibition of autophagy may contribute to cell senescence. Here we look at whether autophagy contributes to cigarette smoke extract (CSE) - induced cell senescence of primary human bronchial epithelial cells (HBEC), and further evaluate p62 and ubiquitinated protein levels in lung homogenates from COPD patients. We demonstrate that CSE transiently induces activation of autophagy in HBEC, followed by accelerated cell senescence and concomitant accumulation of p62 and ubiquitinated proteins. Autophagy inhibition further enhanced accumulations of p62 and ubiquitinated proteins, resulting in increased senescence and senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) with interleukin (IL)-8 secretion. Conversely, autophagy activation by Torin1, a mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR inhibitor), suppressed accumulations of p62 and ubiquitinated proteins and inhibits cell senescence. Despite increased baseline activity, autophagy induction in response to CSE was significantly decreased in HBEC from COPD patients. Increased accumulations of p62 and ubiquitinated proteins were detected in lung homogenates from COPD patients. Insufficient autophagic clearance of damaged proteins, including ubiquitinated proteins, is involved in accelerated cell senescence in COPD, suggesting a novel protective role for autophagy in the tobacco smoke-induced senescence-associated lung disease, COPD.
PMCID: PMC3429567  PMID: 22934255
autophagy; COPD; p62; senescence; ubiquitin
3.  The Impact of Autophagy on Cell Death Modalities 
Autophagy represents a homeostatic cellular mechanism for the turnover of organelles and proteins, through a lysosome-dependent degradation pathway. During starvation, autophagy facilitates cell survival through the recycling of metabolic precursors. Additionally, autophagy can modulate other vital processes such as programmed cell death (e.g., apoptosis), inflammation, and adaptive immune mechanisms and thereby influence disease pathogenesis. Selective pathways can target distinct cargoes (e.g., mitochondria and proteins) for autophagic degradation. At present, the causal relationship between autophagy and various forms of regulated or nonregulated cell death remains unclear. Autophagy can occur in association with necrosis-like cell death triggered by caspase inhibition. Autophagy and apoptosis have been shown to be coincident or antagonistic, depending on experimental context, and share cross-talk between signal transduction elements. Autophagy may modulate the outcome of other regulated forms of cell death such as necroptosis. Recent advances suggest that autophagy can dampen inflammatory responses, including inflammasome-dependent caspase-1 activation and maturation of proinflammatory cytokines. Autophagy may also act as regulator of caspase-1 dependent cell death (pyroptosis). Strategies aimed at modulating autophagy may lead to therapeutic interventions for diseases in which apoptosis or other forms of regulated cell death may play a cardinal role.
PMCID: PMC3932252  PMID: 24639873
4.  Autophagy in the Lung 
Autophagy is a cellular process for the disposal of damaged organelles or denatured proteins through a lysosomal degradation pathway. By reducing endogenous macromolecules to their basic components (i.e., amino acids, lipids), autophagy serves a homeostatic function by ensuring cell survival during starvation. Increased autophagy can be found in dying cells, although the relationships between autophagy and programmed cell death remain unclear. To date, few studies have examined the regulation and functional significance of autophagy in human lung disease. The lung, a complex organ that functions primarily in gas exchange, consists of diverse cell types (i.e., endothelial, epithelial, mesenchymal, inflammatory). In lung cells, autophagy may represent a general inducible adaptive response to injury resulting from exposure to stress agents, including hypoxia, oxidants, inflammation, ischemia–reperfusion, endoplasmic reticulum stress, pharmaceuticals, or inhaled xenobiotics (i.e., air pollution, cigarette smoke). In recent studies, we have observed increased autophagy in mouse lungs subjected to chronic cigarette smoke exposure, and in pulmonary epithelial cells exposed to cigarette smoke extract. Knockdown of autophagic proteins inhibited apoptosis in response to cigarette smoke exposure in vitro, suggesting that increased autophagy was associated with epithelial cell death. We have also observed increased morphological and biochemical markers of autophagy in human lung specimens from patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). We hypothesize that increased autophagy contributes to COPD pathogenesis by promoting epithelial cell death. Further research will examine whether autophagy plays a homeostatic or maladaptive role in COPD and other human lung diseases.
PMCID: PMC3137145  PMID: 20160144
autophagy; apoptosis; pulmonary disease
5.  Current concepts on the role of inflammation in COPD and lung cancer 
Current opinion in pharmacology  2009;9(4):375-383.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer are leading cause of death, and both are associated with cigarette smoke exposure. It has been shown that 50–70% of patients diagnosed with lung cancer suffer from COPD, and reduced lung function is an important event in lung cancer suggesting an association between COPD and lung cancer. However, a causal relationship between COPD and lung tumorigenesis is not yet fully understood. Recent studies have suggested a central role of chronic inflammation in pathogenesis of both the diseases. For example, immune dysfunction, abnormal activation of NF-κB, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, altered adhesion signaling pathways, and extracellular matrix degradation/altered signaling are the key underlying mechanisms in both COPD and lung cancer. These parameters along with other processes, such as chromatin modifications/epigenetic changes, angiogenesis, and autophagy/apoptosis are altered by cigarette smoke, are crucial in the development of COPD and lung cancer. Understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying these processes will provide novel avenues for halting the chronic inflammation in COPD and devising therapeutic strategies against lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC2730975  PMID: 19615942
Cigarette smoke; angiogenesis; oxidants; epigenetics; growth factors
6.  Autophagy in Vascular Disease 
Autophagy, or “self eating,” refers to a regulated cellular process for the lysosomal-dependent turnover of organelles and proteins. During starvation or nutrient deficiency, autophagy promotes survival through the replenishment of metabolic precursors derived from the degradation of endogenous cellular components. Autophagy represents a general homeostatic and inducible adaptive response to environmental stress, including endoplasmic reticulum stress, hypoxia, oxidative stress, and exposure to pharmaceuticals and xenobiotics. Whereas elevated autophagy can be observed in dying cells, the functional relationships between autophagy and programmed cell death pathways remain incompletely understood. Preclinical studies have identified autophagy as a process that can be activated during vascular disorders, including ischemia–reperfusion injury of the heart and other organs, cardiomyopathy, myocardial injury, and atherosclerosis. The functional significance of autophagy in human cardiovascular disease pathogenesis remains incompletely understood, and potentially involves both adaptive and maladaptive outcomes, depending on model system. Although relatively few studies have been performed in the lung, our recent studies also implicate a role for autophagy in chronic lung disease. Manipulation of the signaling pathways that regulate autophagy could potentially provide a novel therapeutic strategy in the prevention or treatment of human disease.
PMCID: PMC3137148  PMID: 20160147
autophagy; apoptosis; vascular disease
7.  Cigarette smoke-induced autophagy is regulated by SIRT1-PARP-1-dependent mechanism: Implication in pathogenesis of COPD 
Autophagy is a fundamental cellular process that eliminates long-lived proteins and damaged organelles through lysosomal degradation pathway. Cigarette smoke (CS)-mediated oxidative stress induces cytotoxic responses in lung cells. However, the role of autophagy and its mechanism in CS-mediated cytotoxic responses is not known. We hypothesized that NAD+-dependent deacetylase, sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) plays an important role in regulating autophagy in response to CS. CS exposure resulted in induction of autophagy in lung epithelial cells, fibroblasts and macrophages. Pretreatment of cells with SIRT1 activator resveratrol attenuated CS-induced autophagy whereas the SIRT1 inhibitor, sirtinol, augmented CS-induced autophagy. Elevated levels of autophagy were induced by CS in the lungs of SIRT1 deficient mice. Inhibition of poly(ADP-ribose)-polymerase-1 (PARP-1) attenuated CS-induced autophagy via SIRT1 activation. These data suggest that the SIRT1-PARP-1 axis plays a critical role in the regulation of CS-induced autophagy and have important implications in understanding the mechanisms of CS-induced cell death and senescence.
PMCID: PMC2904411  PMID: 20493163
SIRT1; PARP-1; resveratrol; cigarette smoke; autophagy
8.  Role of autophagy in cancer prevention 
Macroautophagy (autophagy hereafter) is a catabolic process by which cells degrade intracellular components in lysosomes. This cellular garbage disposal and intracellular recycling provided by autophagy serves to maintain cellular homeostasis by eliminating superfluous or damaged proteins and organelles, and invading microbes, or to provide substrates for energy generation and biosynthesis in stress. Thus, autophagy promotes the health of cells and animals and is critical for development, differentiation and maintenance of cell function and for the host defense against pathogens. Deregulation of autophagy is linked to susceptibility to various disorders including degenerative diseases, metabolic syndrome, aging, infectious diseases and cancer. Autophagic activity emerges as a critical factor in development and progression of diseases that are associated with increased cancer risk as well as in different stages of cancer. Given that cancer is a complex process and autophagy exerts its effect in multiple ways, role of autophagy in tumorigenesis is context-dependent. As a cytoprotective survival pathway, autophagy prevents chronic tissue damage and cell death that can lead to cancer initiation and progression. As such, stimulation or restoration of autophagy may prevent cancer. By contrast, once cancer occurs, cancer cells may utilize autophagy to enhance fitness to survive with altered metabolism and in the hostile tumor microenvironment. In this setting autophagy inhibition would instead become a strategy for therapy of established cancers.
PMCID: PMC3136921  PMID: 21733821
autophagy; metabolism; homeostasis; inflammation; cancer prevention
9.  Autophagy in Inflammatory Diseases 
Autophagy provides a mechanism for the turnover of cellular organelles and proteins through a lysosome-dependent degradation pathway. During starvation, autophagy exerts a homeostatic function that promotes cell survival by recycling metabolic precursors. Additionally, autophagy can interact with other vital processes such as programmed cell death, inflammation, and adaptive immune mechanisms, and thereby potentially influence disease pathogenesis. Macrophages deficient in autophagic proteins display enhanced caspase-1-dependent proinflammatory cytokine production and the activation of the inflammasome. Autophagy provides a functional role in infectious diseases and sepsis by promoting intracellular bacterial clearance. Mutations in autophagy-related genes, leading to loss of autophagic function, have been implicated in the pathogenesis of Crohn's disease. Furthermore, autophagy-dependent mechanisms have been proposed in the pathogenesis of several pulmonary diseases that involve inflammation, including cystic fibrosis and pulmonary hypertension. Strategies aimed at modulating autophagy may lead to therapeutic interventions for diseases associated with inflammation.
PMCID: PMC3235460  PMID: 22190939
10.  Histone deacetylase 6–mediated selective autophagy regulates COPD-associated cilia dysfunction 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2013;123(12):5212-5230.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) involves aberrant airway inflammatory responses to cigarette smoke (CS) that are associated with epithelial cell dysfunction, cilia shortening, and mucociliary clearance disruption. Exposure to CS reduced cilia length and induced autophagy in vivo and in differentiated mouse tracheal epithelial cells (MTECs). Autophagy-impaired (Becn1+/– or Map1lc3B–/–) mice and MTECs resisted CS-induced cilia shortening. Furthermore, CS increased the autophagic turnover of ciliary proteins, indicating that autophagy may regulate cilia homeostasis. We identified cytosolic deacetylase HDAC6 as a critical regulator of autophagy-mediated cilia shortening during CS exposure. Mice bearing an X chromosome deletion of Hdac6 (Hdac6–/Y) and MTECs from these mice had reduced autophagy and were protected from CS-induced cilia shortening. Autophagy-impaired Becn1–/–, Map1lc3B–/–, and Hdac6–/Y mice or mice injected with an HDAC6 inhibitor were protected from CS-induced mucociliary clearance (MCC) disruption. MCC was preserved in mice given the chemical chaperone 4-phenylbutyric acid, but was disrupted in mice lacking the transcription factor NRF2, suggesting that oxidative stress and altered proteostasis contribute to the disruption of MCC. Analysis of human COPD specimens revealed epigenetic deregulation of HDAC6 by hypomethylation and increased protein expression in the airways. We conclude that an autophagy-dependent pathway regulates cilia length during CS exposure and has potential as a therapeutic target for COPD.
PMCID: PMC3859407  PMID: 24200693
11.  The cyclin-dependent kinase PITSLRE/CDK11 is required for successful autophagy 
Autophagy  2011;7(11):1295-1301.
(Macro)autophagy is a membrane-trafficking process that serves to sequester cellular constituents in organelles termed autophagosomes, which target their degradation in the lysosome. Autophagy operates at basal levels in all cells where it serves as a homeostatic mechanism to maintain cellular integrity. The levels and cargoes of autophagy can, however, change in response to a variety of stimuli, and perturbations in autophagy are known to be involved in the etiology of various human diseases. Autophagy must therefore be tightly controlled. We report here that the Drosophila cyclindependent kinase PITSLRE is a modulator of autophagy. Loss of the human PITSLRE ortholog, CDK11, initially appears to induce autophagy, but at later time points CDK11 is critically required for autophagic flux and cargo digestion. Since PITSLRE/CDK11 regulates autophagy in both Drosophila and human cells, this kinase represents a novel phylogenetically conserved component of the autophagy machinery.
PMCID: PMC3242795  PMID: 21808150
PITSLRE; CDK11; cyclin-dependent kinase; autophagy; human; Drosophila
12.  Autophagy in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e41394.
Autophagy is a basic cellular homeostatic process important to cell fate decisions under conditions of stress. Dysregulation of autophagy impacts numerous human diseases including cancer and chronic obstructive lung disease. This study investigates the role of autophagy in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
Human lung tissues from patients with IPF were analyzed for autophagy markers and modulating proteins using western blotting, confocal microscopy and transmission electron microscopy. To study the effects of TGF-β1 on autophagy, human lung fibroblasts were monitored by fluorescence microscopy and western blotting. In vivo experiments were done using the bleomycin-induced fibrosis mouse model.
Lung tissues from IPF patients demonstrate evidence of decreased autophagic activity as assessed by LC3, p62 protein expression and immunofluorescence, and numbers of autophagosomes. TGF-β1 inhibits autophagy in fibroblasts in vitro at least in part via activation of mTORC1; expression of TIGAR is also increased in response to TGF-β1. In the bleomycin model of pulmonary fibrosis, rapamycin treatment is antifibrotic, and rapamycin also decreases expression of á-smooth muscle actin and fibronectin by fibroblasts in vitro. Inhibition of key regulators of autophagy, LC3 and beclin-1, leads to the opposite effect on fibroblast expression of á-smooth muscle actin and fibronectin.
Autophagy is not induced in pulmonary fibrosis despite activation of pathways known to promote autophagy. Impairment of autophagy by TGF-β1 may represent a mechanism for the promotion of fibrogenesis in IPF.
PMCID: PMC3399849  PMID: 22815997
13.  Regulation of Cigarette Smoke (CS)-Induced Autophagy by Nrf2 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e55695.
Cigarette smoke (CS) has been reported to induce autophagy in airway epithelial cells. The subsequent autophagic cell death has been proposed to play an important pathogenic role in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); however, the underlying molecular mechanism is not entirely clear. Using CS extract (CSE) as a surrogate for CS, we found that it markedly increased the expressions of both LC3B-I and LC3B-II as well as autophagosomes in airway epithelial cells. This is in contrast to the common autophagy inducer (i.e., starvation) that increases LC3B-II but reduces LC3B-I. Further studies indicate that CSE regulated LC3B at transcriptional and post-translational levels. In addition, CSE, but not starvation, activated Nrf2-mediated adaptive response. Increase of cellular Nrf2 by either Nrf2 overexpression or the knockdown of Keap1 (an Nrf2 inhibitor) significantly repressed CSE-induced LC3B-I and II as well as autophagosomes. Supplement of NAC (a GSH precursor) or GSH recapitulated the effect of Nrf2, suggesting the increase of cellular GSH level is responsible for Nrf2 effect on LC3B and autophagosome. Interestingly, neither Nrf2 activation nor GSH supplement could restore the repressed activities of mTOR or its downstream effctor-S6K. Thus, the Nrf2-dependent autophagy-suppression was not due to the re-activation of mTOR-the master repressor of autophagy. To search for the downstream effector of Nrf2 on LC3B and autophagosome, we tested Nrf2-dependent genes (i.e., NQO1 and P62) that are also increased by CSE treatment. We found that P62, but not NQO1, could mimic the effect of Nrf2 activation by repressing LC3B expression. Thus, Nrf2->P62 appears to play an important role in the regulation of CSE-induced LC3B and autophagosome.
PMCID: PMC3621864  PMID: 23585825
14.  Impact of heterozygote CFTR Mutations in COPD patients with Chronic Bronchitis 
Respiratory Research  2014;15(1):18.
Cigarette smoking causes Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S. CFTR ion transport dysfunction has been implicated in COPD pathogenesis, and is associated with chronic bronchitis. However, susceptibility to smoke induced lung injury is variable and the underlying genetic contributors remain unclear. We hypothesized that presence of CFTR mutation heterozygosity may alter susceptibility to cigarette smoke induced CFTR dysfunction. Consequently, COPD patients with chronic bronchitis may have a higher rate of CFTR mutations compared to the general population.
Primary human bronchial epithelial cells derived from F508del CFTR heterozygotes and mice with (CFTR+/-) and without (CFTR+/+) CFTR heterozygosity were exposed to whole cigarette smoke (WCS); CFTR-dependent ion transport was assessed by Ussing chamber electrophysiology and nasal potential difference measurements, respectively. Caucasians with COPD and chronic bronchitis, age 40 to 80 with FEV1/FVC < 0.70 and FEV1 < 60% predicted, were selected for genetic analysis from participants in the NIH COPD Clinical Research Network’s Azithromycin for Prevention of Exacerbations of COPD in comparison to 32,900 Caucasian women who underwent prenatal genetic testing. Genetic analysis involved an allele-specific genotyping of 89 CFTR mutations.
Exposure to WCS caused a pronounced reduction in CFTR activity in both CFTR (+/+) cells and F508del CFTR (+/-) cells; however, neither the degree of decrement (44.7% wild-type vs. 53.5% F508del heterozygous, P = NS) nor the residual CFTR activity were altered by CFTR heterozygosity. Similarly, WCS caused a marked reduction in CFTR activity measured by NPD in both wild type and CFTR heterozygous mice, but the severity of decrement (91.1% wild type vs. 47.7% CF heterozygous, P = NS) and the residual activity were not significantly affected by CFTR genetic status. Five of 127 (3.9%) COPD patients with chronic bronchitis were heterozygous for CFTR mutations which was not significantly different from controls (4.5%) (P = NS).
The magnitude of WCS induced reductions in CFTR activity was not affected by the presence of CFTR mutation heterozygosity. CFTR mutations do not increase the risk of COPD with chronic bronchitis. CFTR dysfunction due to smoking is primarily an acquired phenomenon and is not affected by the presence of congenital CFTR mutations.
PMCID: PMC3925354  PMID: 24517344
15.  Cardiomyocyte Autophagy: Remodeling, Repairing, and Reconstructing the Heart 
Current hypertension reports  2009;11(6):406-411.
Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved catabolic pathway of lysosome-dependent turnover of damaged proteins and organelles. When nutrients are in short supply, bulk removal of cytoplasmic components by autophagy replenishes depleted energy stores, a process critical for maintaining cellular homeostasis. However, prolonged activation of autophagic pathways can result in cell death. Longstanding evidence has linked the stimulation of lysosomal pathways to pathologic cardiac remodeling and a number of cardiac diseases, including heart failure and ischemia. Only recently, however, has work begun to parse cyto-protective autophagy from autophagy that contributes to disease pathogenesis. Current thinking suggests that the effects of autophagy exist on a continuum, with the eliciting triggers, the duration and amplitude of autophagic flux, and possibly the targeted intra cellular cargo as critical determinants of the end result. Deciphering how autophagy participates in basal homeostasis of the heart, in aging, and in disease pathogenesis may uncover novel insights with clinical relevance in the treatment of heart disease.
PMCID: PMC3005716  PMID: 19895751
16.  Autophagy modulation for cancer therapy 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2011;11(2):169-176.
Autophagy is a homeostatic and catabolic process that enables the sequestration and lysosomal degradation of cytoplasmic organelles and proteins that is important for the maintenance of genomic stability and cell survival. Beclin 1+/− gene knockout mice are tumor prone, indicating a tumor suppressor role for autophagy. Autophagy is also a mechanism of stress tolerance that maintains cell viability and can lead to tumor dormancy, progression and therapeutic resistance. Many anticancer drugs induce cytotoxic stress that can activate pro-survival autophagy. In some contexts, excessive or prolonged autophagy can lead to tumor cell death. Inhibition of cytoprotective autophagy by genetic or pharmacological means has been shown to enhance anticancer drug-induced cell death, suggesting a novel therapeutic strategy. Studies are ongoing to define optimal strategies to modulate autophagy for cancer prevention and therapy, and to exploit it as a target for anticancer drug discovery.
PMCID: PMC3230308  PMID: 21263212
autophagy; beclin 1; cell death; cancer treatment
17.  The Role of Autophagy in Cancer: Therapeutic Implications 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2011;10(9):1533-1541.
Autophagy is a homeostatic, catabolic degradation process whereby cellular proteins and organelles are engulfed into autophagosomes, digested in lysosomes and recycled to sustain cellular metabolism. Autophagy has dual roles in cancer, acting as both a tumor suppressor by preventing the accumulation of damaged proteins and organelles and as a mechanism of cell survival that can promote the growth of established tumors. Tumor cells activate autophagy in response to cellular stress including hypoxia and increased metabolic demands related to rapid cell proliferation. Autophagy-related stress tolerance can enable cell survival by maintaining energy production that can lead to tumor growth and therapeutic resistance, as shown in preclinical models where the inhibition of autophagy can restore chemosensitivity and enhance tumor cell death. These results established autophagy as a therapeutic target and have led to multiple early phase clinical trials in humans evaluating autophagy inhibition using hydroxychloroquine in combination with chemotherapy or targeted agents. Targeting autophagy in cancer provides new opportunities for drug development since more potent and specific inhibitors of autophagy are needed. The role of autophagy and its regulation in cancer cells continues to emerge and studies aim to define optimal strategies to modulate autophagy for therapeutic advantage.
PMCID: PMC3170456  PMID: 21878654
18.  Regulation and Functional Significance of Autophagy in Respiratory Cell Biology and Disease 
Autophagy is a homeostatic process common to all eukaryotic cells that serves to degrade intracellular components. Among three classes of autophagy, macroautophagy is best understood, and is the subject of this Review. The function of autophagy is multifaceted, and includes removal of long-lived proteins and damaged or unneeded organelles, recycling of intracellular components for nutrients, and defense against pathogens. This process has been extensively studied in yeast, and understanding of its functional significance in human disease is also increasing. This Review explores the basic machinery and regulation of autophagy in mammalian systems, methods employed to measure autophagic activity, and then focuses on recent discoveries about the functional significance of autophagy in respiratory diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis, tuberculosis, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary arterial hypertension, acute lung injury, and lymphangioleiomyomatosis.
PMCID: PMC3547078  PMID: 22984088
autophagy; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; epithelial cells; fibroblasts
19.  Autophagy and cancer cell metabolism 
Autophagy is a catabolic process involving lysosomal turnover of proteins and organelles for maintenance of cellular homeostasis and mitigation of metabolic stress. Autophagy defects are linked to diseases, such as liver failure, neurodegeneration, inflammatory bowel disease, aging and cancer. The role of autophagy in tumorigenesis is complex and likely context-dependent. Human breast, ovarian and prostate cancers have allelic deletions of the essential autophagy regulator BECN1 and Becn1+/− and other autophagy-deficient transgenic mice are tumor-prone, whereas tumors with constitutive Ras activation, including human pancreatic cancers, upregulate basal autophagy and are commonly addicted to this pathway for survival and growth; furthermore, autophagy suppression by Fip200 deletion compromises PyMT-induced mammary tumorigenesis. The double-edged sword function of autophagy in cancer has been attributed to both cell- and non-cell-autonomous mechanisms, as autophagy defects promote cancer progression in association with oxidative and ER stress, DNA damage accumulation, genomic instability and persistence of inflammation, while functional autophagy enables cancer cell survival under stress and likely contributes to treatment resistance. In this review, we will focus on the intimate link between autophagy and cancer cell metabolism, a topic of growing interest in recent years, which has been recognized as highly clinically relevant and has become the focus of intense investigation in translational cancer research. Many tumor-associated conditions, including intermittent oxygen and nutrient deprivation, oxidative stress, fast growth and cell death suppression, modulate, in parallel and in interconnected ways, both cellular metabolism and autophagy to enable cancer cells to rapidly adapt to environmental stressors, maintain uncontrolled proliferation and evade the toxic effects of radiation and/or chemotherapy. Elucidating the interplay between autophagy and tumor cell metabolism will provide unique opportunities to identify new therapeutic targets and develop synthetically lethal treatment strategies that preferentially target cancer cells, while sparing normal tissues.
PMCID: PMC3639127  PMID: 22281437
Autophagy; Cancer cell metabolism; Warburg effect; Oxidative phosphorylation; Glycolysis
20.  The multiple roles of autophagy in cancer 
Carcinogenesis  2011;32(7):955-963.
Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved, catabolic process that involves the entrapment of cytoplasmic components within characteristic vesicles for their delivery to and degradation within lysosomes. Autophagy is regulated via a group of genes called AuTophaGy-related genes and is executed at basal levels in virtually all cells as a homeostatic mechanism for maintaining cellular integrity. The levels and cargos of autophagy can be modulated in response to a variety of intra- and extracellular cues to bring about specific and selective events. Autophagy is a multifaceted process and alterations in autophagic signalling pathways are frequently found in cancer and many other diseases. During tumour development and in cancer therapy, autophagy has paradoxically been reported to have roles in promoting both cell survival and cell death. In addition, autophagy has been reported to control other processes relevant to the aetiology of malignant disease, including oxidative stress, inflammation and both innate and acquired immunity. It is the aim of this review to describe the molecular basis and the signalling events that control autophagy in mammalian cells and to summarize the cellular functions that contribute to tumourigenesis when autophagy is perturbed.
PMCID: PMC3128556  PMID: 21317301
21.  Autophagy and apoptosis: rivals or mates? 
Chinese Journal of Cancer  2013;32(3):103-105.
Autophagy, a cellular process of “self-eating” by which intracellular components are degraded within the lysosome, is an evolutionarily conserved response to various stresses. Autophagy is associated with numerous patho-physiological conditions, and dysregulation of autophagy contributes to the pathogenesis of a variety of human diseases including cancer. Depending on context, activation of autophagy may promote either cell survival or death, two major events that determine pathological process of many illnesses. Importantly, the activity of autophagy is often associated with apoptosis, another critical cellular process determining cellular fate. A better understanding of biology of autophagy and its implication in human health and disorder, as well as the relationship between autophagy and apoptosis, has the potential of facilitating the development of autophagy-based therapeutic interventions for human diseases such as cancer.
PMCID: PMC3845593  PMID: 23419194
Autophagy; apoptosis; cancer; molecular regulation
22.  Autophagy in Toxicology: Self-consumption in times of stress and plenty 
Autophagy is a critical cellular process orchestrating the lysosomal degradation of cellular components in order to maintain cellular homeostasis and respond to cellular stress. A growing research effort over the last decade has proven autophagy to be essential for constitutive protein and organelle turnover, for embryonic/neonatal survival, and for cell survival during conditions of environmental stress. Emphasizing its biological importance, dysfunctional autophagy contributes to a diverse set of human diseases. Cellular stress induced by xenobiotic exposure typifies environmental stress, and can result in the induction of autophagy as a cytoprotective mechanism. An increasing number of xenobiotics are notable for their ability to modulate the induction or the rate of autophagy. The role of autophagy in normal cellular homeostasis, the intricate relationship between cellular stress and the induction of autophagy, and the identification of specific xenobiotics capable of modulating autophagy, point to the importance of the autophagic process in toxicology. This review will summarize the importance of autophagy and its role in cellular response to stress, including examples in which consideration of autophagy has contributed to a more complete understanding of toxicant-perturbed systems.
PMCID: PMC3572937  PMID: 22334383
23.  Autophagy 
Autophagy is a highly conserved homeostatic pathway by which cells transport damaged proteins and organelles to lysosomes for degradation. Dysregulation of autophagy contributes to the pathogenesis of clinically important disorders in a variety of organ systems but, until recently, little was known about its relationship to diseases of the lung. However, there is now growing evidence at the basic research level that autophagy is linked to the pathogenesis of important pulmonary disorders such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis, and tuberculosis. In this review, we provide an introduction to the field of autophagy research geared to clinical and research pulmonologists. We focus on the best-studied autophagic mechanism, macroautophagy, and summarize studies that link the regulation of this pathway to pulmonary disease. Last, we offer our perspective on how a better understanding of macroautophagy might be used for designing novel therapies for pulmonary disorders.
PMCID: PMC3262043  PMID: 21836133
autophagy; macroautophagy; lung; disease; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
24.  Lung Injury and Cancer 
Cigarette smoke has been connected to an array of chronic lung diseases and is a major source of morbidity and mortality. Active smoking is responsible for approximately 90% of lung cancer cases. In addition, cigarette smoke is associated with other chronic pulmonary diseases such as pulmonary edema, chronic bronchitis, and pulmonary emphysema, the last two also termed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Lung cancer and COPD are developed very frequently in chronic cigarette smokers. It has been known for some time that lung cancer incidence increases in patients with COPD. Even the existence of some low-grade emphysema without noticeable airflow obstruction is associated with significantly elevated risk of lung cancer. These recent clinical insights demand new thinking and exploration of novel mechanistic studies to fully understand these observations. Lung injury and repair involve cell death and hyperplasia of airway epithelial cells and infiltration of inflammatory cells. All of these occur simultaneously. The mechanisms of cell death and hyperplasia in the lung constitute two sides of the coin of lung injury and repair. However, most molecular studies in airway epithelial cells center on the mechanism(s) of either cell growth and proliferation or cell death and the ceramide-generating machinery that drives aberrant induction of apoptotic cell death. Very few address both sides of the coin as an outcome of cigarette smoke exposure, which is the focus of this review.
PMCID: PMC2933544  PMID: 20525802
ceramide machinery; EGFR trafficking; cigarette smoke; lung injury; lung cancer
25.  Autophagy and Cancer 
(Macro)autophagy is a cellular membrane trafficking process that serves to deliver cytoplasmic constituents to lysosomes for degradation. At basal levels, it is critical for maintaining cytoplasmic as well as genomic integrity and is therefore key to maintaining cellular homeostasis. Autophagy is also highly adaptable and can be modified to digest specific cargoes to bring about selective effects in response to numerous forms of intracellular and extracellular stress. It is not a surprise, therefore, that autophagy has a fundamental role in cancer and that perturbations in autophagy can contribute to malignant disease. We review here the roles of autophagy in various aspects of tumor suppression including the response of cells to nutrient and hypoxic stress, the control of programmed cell death, and the connection to tumor-associated immune responses.
In healthy cells, autophagy protects against malignant disease by maintaining cellular homeostasis. However, upon transformation, activation of autophagy can promote and suppress cancer progression.
PMCID: PMC3249624  PMID: 22166310

Results 1-25 (990327)