Autophagy is a conserved eukaryotic mechanism that mediates the removal of long-lived cytoplasmic macromolecules and damaged organelles via a lysosomal degradative pathway. Recently, a multitude of studies have reported that viral infections may have complex interconnections with the autophagic process. These observations strongly imply that autophagy has virus-specific roles relating to viral replication, host innate and adaptive immune responses, virus-induced cell death programs, and viral pathogenesis. Autophagy can supply internal membrane structures necessary for viral replication or may prolong cell survival during viral infections and postpone cell death. It can influence the survival of both infected and bystander cells. This process has also been linked to the recognition of viral signature molecules during innate immunity and has been suggested to help rid the cell of infection. This review discusses interactions between different viruses and the autophagy pathway, and surveys the current state of knowledge and emerging themes within this field.
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