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The role of autophagy in microbial infection and immunity

Authors Desai M, Fang R, Sun J

Received 31 October 2014

Accepted for publication 27 November 2014

Published 6 January 2015 Volume 2015:4 Pages 13—26

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/ITT.S76720

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Michael Shurin


Mayura Desai,1 Rong Fang,2 Jiaren Sun1

1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, 2Department of Pathology, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Galveston, TX, USA

Abstract: The autophagy pathway represents an evolutionarily conserved cell recycling process that is activated in response to nutrient deprivation and other stress signals. Over the years, it has been linked to an array of cellular functions. Equally, a wide range of cell-intrinsic, as well as extracellular, factors have been implicated in the induction of the autophagy pathway. Microbial infections represent one such factor that can not only activate autophagy through specific mechanisms but also manipulate the response to the invading microbe's advantage. Moreover, in many cases, particularly among viruses, the pathway has been shown to be intricately involved in the replication cycle of the pathogen. Conversely, autophagy also plays a role in combating the infection process, both through direct destruction of the pathogen and as one of the key mediating factors in the host defense mechanisms of innate and adaptive immunity. Further, the pathway also plays a role in controlling the pathogenesis of infectious diseases by regulating inflammation. In this review, we discuss various interactions between pathogens and the cellular autophagic response and summarize the immunological functions of the autophagy pathway.

Keywords: autophagy, xenophagy, antiviral, antibacterial

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