Autophagy, EVs, and infections: A perfect question for a perfect time

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Autophagy, a highly conserved process, serves to maintain cellular homeostasis in response to an extensive variety of internal and external stimuli. The classic, or canonical, pathway of autophagy involves the coordinated degradation and recycling of intracellular components and pathogenic material. Proper regulation of autophagy is critical to maintain cellular health, as alterations in the autophagy pathway have been linked to the progression of a variety of physiological and pathological conditions in humans, namely in aging and in viral infection. In addition to its canonical role as a degradative pathway, a more unconventional and non-degradative role for autophagy has emerged as an area of increasing interest. This process, known as secretory autophagy, is gaining widespread attention as many viruses are believed to use this pathway as a means to release and spread viral particles. Moreover, secretory autophagy has been found to intersect with other intracellular pathways, such as the biogenesis and secretion of extracellular vesicles (EVs). Here, we provide a review of the current landscape surrounding both degradative autophagy and secretory autophagy in relation to both aging and viral infection. We discuss their key features, while describing their interplay with numerous different viruses (i.e. hepatitis B and C viruses, Epstein-Barr virus, SV40, herpesviruses, HIV, chikungunya virus, dengue virus, Zika virus, Ebola virus, HTLV, Rift Valley fever virus, poliovirus, and influenza A virus), and compare secretory autophagy to other pathways of extracellular vesicle release. Lastly, we highlight the need for, and emphasize the importance of, more thorough methods to study the underlying mechanisms of these pathways to better advance our understanding of disease progression.




Pleet, M. L., Branscome, H., DeMarino, C., Pinto, D. O., Zadeh, M. A., Rodriguez, M., … Kashanchi, F. (2018). Autophagy, EVs, and infections: A perfect question for a perfect time. Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology. Frontiers Media S.A.

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