The different roles of selective autophagic protein degradation in mammalian cells

Oncotarget. 2015 Nov 10;6(35):37098-116. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.5776.


Autophagy is an intracellular pathway for bulk protein degradation and the removal of damaged organelles by lysosomes. Autophagy was previously thought to be unselective; however, studies have increasingly confirmed that autophagy-mediated protein degradation is highly regulated. Abnormal autophagic protein degradation has been associated with multiple human diseases such as cancer, neurological disability and cardiovascular disease; therefore, further elucidation of protein degradation by autophagy may be beneficial for protein-based clinical therapies. Macroautophagy and chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA) can both participate in selective protein degradation in mammalian cells, but the process is quite different in each case. Here, we summarize the various types of macroautophagy and CMA involved in determining protein degradation. For this summary, we divide the autophagic protein degradation pathways into four categories: the post-translational modification dependent and independent CMA pathways and the ubiquitin dependent and independent macroautophagy pathways, and describe how some non-canonical pathways and modifications such as phosphorylation, acetylation and arginylation can influence protein degradation by the autophagy lysosome system (ALS). Finally, we comment on why autophagy can serve as either diagnostics or therapeutic targets in different human diseases.

Keywords: autophagy; autophagy receptor; degradation; modification; protein.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autophagy*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Chaperones / metabolism*
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational*
  • Proteolysis*


  • Molecular Chaperones