beclin 1

beclin 1

An evolutionarily conserved protein involved in regulating autophagy, development, tumour suppression, vacuolar protein sorting, and required for the abcission step in cytokinesis. It may play a role in antiviral host defence. Atg6/Beclin 1 may function as a VPS and autophagy protein as part of a complex with Class-III PI3 kinase, Vps34.
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The study, led by Beth Levine, director of the Center for Autophagy Research and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, revealed that EGFR turns off autophagy, a process by which cells recycle unneeded parts, by binding to a protein, Beclin 1, which normally turns on the process.
The fact that this type of cell surface receptor can directly interact with Beclin 1 and shut off autophagy provides fundamental insight into how certain oncogenes may cause cancer," says Levine.
Earlier work in the laboratory of Levine identified Beclin 1 as the first mammalian gene shown to function in autophagy.
They found RNA evidence of decreased levels of the protein beclin 1 in the hippocampus of schizophrenia patients, a brain region central to learning and memory.
Beclin 1 is central to initiating autophagy - its deficit suggests that the process is indeed blocked in schizophrenia patients.
Conversely, beclin 1 activity and the autophagy pathway appear to be important for protection against breast, lung, ovarian, and perhaps other cancers, as well as for fighting off viral and bacterial infections, and protecting individuals from neurodegenerative diseases and aging.
Levine's current research focuses on the role of autophagy in normal development and control of lifespan, the mechanisms by which autophagy genes suppress tumors, the biochemical mechanisms that regulate beclin 1 function, and the role of autophagy as a defense mechanism against certain viruses and bacteria.