2Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Blackfan Circle 1, 02155 Boston, USA; fax: (617) 355-9016
* To whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received October 7, 2012; Revision received December 19, 2012
Autophagy (from Greek “auto” – self, “phagos” – to eat) is the major catabolic process involved in the delivery and lysosomal degradation of long-lived intracellular components: proteins, lipids, nucleic acids, and organelles. Since the discovery of genes involved in regulation of autophagy in the 1990s, there has been a significant increase in studies of autophagy as a process involved in maintaining cellular homeostasis, as well as its role in the development of different pathologies. This review focuses on the basics of autophagy and its regulatory mechanisms. The role of autophagy in the maintenance of cellular homeostasis and tumorigenesis is also discussed.
KEY WORDS: autophagy, metabolism, mitophagy, mTORC1