Autophagy, a fundamental and evolutionarily-conserved eukaryotic pathway, coordinates a complex balancing act for achieving both nutrient and energetic requirements for proper cellular function and homeostasis. We have discovered that soluble proteoglycans evoke autophagy in endothelial cells and mitophagy in breast carcinoma cells by directly interacting with receptor tyrosine kinases, including VEGF receptor 2 and Met. Under these circumstances, autophagic regulation is considered "non-canonical" and is epitomized by the bioactivity of the small leucine-rich proteoglycan, decorin. Soluble matrix-derived cues being transduced downstream of receptor engagement converge upon a newly-discovered nexus of autophagic machinery consisting of Peg3 for endothelial cell autophagy and mitostatin for tumor cell mitophagy. In this thematic mini-review, we will provide an overview of decorin-mediated autophagy and mitophagy and propose that regulating intracellular catabolism is the underlying molecular basis for the versatility of decorin as a potent oncosuppressive agent.
Keywords: Met; Mitostatin; Peg3; Receptor tyrosine kinases; Small leucine rich proteoglycans; VEGFR2.
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