Autophagy regulation and its role in cancer

Semin Cancer Biol. 2013 Oct;23(5):361-79. doi: 10.1016/j.semcancer.2013.06.007. Epub 2013 Jun 27.


The modulation of macroautophagy is now recognized as one of the hallmarks of cancer cells. There is accumulating evidence that autophagy plays a role in the various stages of tumorigenesis. Depending on the type of cancer and the context, macroautophagy can be tumor suppressor or it can help cancer cells to overcome metabolic stress and the cytotoxicity of chemotherapy. Recent studies have shed light on the role of macroautophagy in tumor-initiating cells, in tumor immune response cross-talk with the microenvironment. This review is intended to provide an up-date on these aspects, and to discuss them with regard to the role of the major signaling sub-networks involved in tumor progression (Beclin 1, MTOR, p53 and RAS) and in regulating autophagy.

Keywords: Macroautophagy; Oncogenes; Signaling pathways; Tumor suppression; Tumorigenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autophagy / physiology*
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Signal Transduction