Direct and indirect effects of the pRb tumor suppressor on autophagy

Autophagy. 2011 May;7(5):544-6. doi: 10.4161/auto.7.5.15056. Epub 2011 May 1.


Autophagy, an intracellular degradation pathway involved in cell survival or demise, is tightly controlled by complex regulatory mechanisms. A link between the Rb tumor suppressor and autophagy is now emerging. pRb plays a critical role in cell cycle progression and survival as well as the differentiation of certain cell types. Recently, we have reported that during skeletal myogenesis, Rb-deficient myoblasts fuse to form short myotubes that quickly degenerate. Myotube degeneration was associated with increased autophagic flux and inhibition of autophagy rescued the defect leading to long, twitching myotubes. We propose that Rb-loss sensitizes cells to autophagy via direct and indirect mechanisms and we discuss how these might affect cancer progression and response to chemotherapy.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autophagy* / genetics
  • Autophagy* / physiology
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Muscle Development / genetics
  • Retinoblastoma Protein / genetics
  • Retinoblastoma Protein / metabolism
  • Retinoblastoma Protein / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / metabolism
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / physiology


  • Retinoblastoma Protein
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins