Autophagy and Apoptosis Specific Knowledgebases-guided Systems Pharmacology Drug Research

Curr Cancer Drug Targets. 2019;19(9):716-728. doi: 10.2174/1568009619666190206122149.


Background: Autophagy and apoptosis are the basic physiological processes in cells that clean up aged and mutant cellular components or even the entire cells. Both autophagy and apoptosis are disrupted in most major diseases such as cancer and neurological disorders. Recently, increasing attention has been paid to understand the crosstalk between autophagy and apoptosis due to their tightly synergetic or opposite functions in several pathological processes.

Objective: This study aims to assist autophagy and apoptosis-related drug research, clarify the intense and complicated connections between two processes, and provide a guide for novel drug development.

Methods: We established two chemical-genomic databases which are specifically designed for autophagy and apoptosis, including autophagy- and apoptosis-related proteins, pathways and compounds. We then performed network analysis on the apoptosis- and autophagy-related proteins and investigated the full protein-protein interaction (PPI) network of these two closely connected processes for the first time.

Results: The overlapping targets we discovered show a more intense connection with each other than other targets in the full network, indicating a better efficacy potential for drug modulation. We also found that Death-associated protein kinase 1 (DAPK1) is a critical point linking autophagy- and apoptosis-related pathways beyond the overlapping part, and this finding may reveal some delicate signaling mechanism of the process. Finally, we demonstrated how to utilize our integrated computational chemogenomics tools on in silico target identification for small molecules capable of modulating autophagy- and apoptosis-related pathways.

Conclusion: The knowledge-bases for apoptosis and autophagy and the integrated tools will accelerate our work in autophagy and apoptosis-related research and can be useful sources for information searching, target prediction, and new chemical discovery.

Keywords: Autophagy; apoptosis; cancer; network analysis; neurological diseases; systems pharmacology..

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis*
  • Autophagy*
  • Computational Biology
  • Drug Development / methods*
  • Humans
  • Knowledge Bases*
  • Molecular Docking Simulation
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Protein Interaction Mapping
  • Signal Transduction


  • Antineoplastic Agents