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Gene of the month: BECN1


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.


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