Editors' ChoiceAUTOPHAGY

Cell Death by Another Name

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Science's STKE  08 Jun 2004:
Vol. 2004, Issue 236, pp. tw206
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2362004tw206

Autophagy is a process in which cells digest their own organelles and proteins in response to nutritional starvation. Yu et al. describe a form of cell death that bears similarities to autophagy. Unlike apoptosis, which depends on activation of proteases in the caspase family, autophagic cell death in a mouse cell line was actually inhibited by caspase-8. Inhibition of expression of two genes known to function in autophagy, ATG7 and beclin 1, reduced cell death caused by inhibition of caspase-8. These findings could impact strategies for combating unwanted apoptosis that use caspase inhibitors to prevent cell death.

L. Yu, A. Alva, H. Su, P. Dutt, E. Freundt, S. Welsh, E. H. Baehrecke, M. J. Lenardo, Regulation of an ATG7-beclin 1 program of autophagic cell death by caspase-8. Science 304, 1500-1502 (2004). [Abstract] [Full Text]