Table of Contents
Journal of Cancer Research
Volume 2013, Article ID 350863, 10 pages
Review Article

Targeting Oncogene-Induced Autophagy: A New Approach in Cancer Therapy?

Cancer and Stem Cell Biology Program, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, 8 College Road, 169857, Singapore

Received 31 March 2013; Revised 31 May 2013; Accepted 31 May 2013

Academic Editor: Shi-Yong Sun

Copyright © 2013 Fuquan Zhang and Jit Kong Cheong. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Autophagy is a tightly controlled self-degradation process utilised by cells to sustain cellular homeostasis and to support cell survival in response to metabolic stress and starvation. Thus, autophagy plays a critical role in promoting cell integrity and maintaining proper function of cellular processes. Defects in autophagy, however, can have drastic implications in human health and diseases, including cancer. Described as a double-edged sword in the context of cancer, autophagy can act as both suppressor and facilitator of tumorigenesis. As such, defining the precise role of autophagy in a multistep event like cancer progression can be complex. Recent findings have implicated a role for components of the autophagy pathway in oncogene-mediated cell transformation, tumour growth, and survival. Notably, aggressive cancers driven by Ras oncoproteins rely on autophagy to sustain a reprogrammed mitochondrial metabolic signature and evade cell death. In this review, we summarize our current understanding of the role of oncogene-induced autophagy in cancer progression and discuss how modulators of autophagic responses can bring about therapeutic benefit and eradication of a subset of cancers that are addicted to this ancient recycling machinery.