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Gene of the month: BECN1
  1. Sumit Sahni,
  2. Angelica M Merlot,
  3. Sukriti Krishan,
  4. Patric J Jansson,
  5. Des R Richardson
  1. Molecular Pharmacology and Pathology Program, Department of Pathology, Bosch Institute, Blackburn Building (D06), University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sumit Sahni, Molecular Pharmacology and Pathology Program, Department of Pathology, Bosch Institute, Blackburn Building (D06), University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia; sumit.sahni{at}sydney.edu.au

Abstract

The BECN1 gene encodes the Beclin-1 protein, which is a well-established regulator of the autophagic pathway. It is a mammalian orthologue of the ATG6 gene in yeast and was one of the first identified mammalian autophagy-associated genes. Beclin-1 interacts with a number of binding partners in the cell which can lead to either activation (eg, via PI3KC3/Vps34, Ambra 1, UV radiation resistance-associated gene) or inhibition (eg, via Bcl-2, Rubicon) of the autophagic pathway. Apart from its role as a regulator of autophagy, it is also shown to effect important biological processes in the cell such as apoptosis and embryogenesis. Beclin-1 has also been implicated to play a critical role in the pathology of a variety of disease states including cancer, neurological disorders (eg, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease) and viral infections. Thus, understanding the functions of Beclin-1 and its interactions with other cellular components will aid in its development as an important therapeutic target for future drug development.

  • TUMOUR BIOLOGY
  • APOPTOSIS
  • NEUROPATHOLOGY

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