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Upregulated Chaperone-Mediated Autophagy May Perform a Key Role in Reduced Cancer Incidence in Huntington's Disease.

Incidence of cancer is markedly reduced in patients with the hereditary neurodegenerative polyglutamine (polyQ) diseases. We have very poor knowledge of the underlying molecular mechanisms, but the expanded polyQ sequence is assumed to play a central role, because it is common to the respective disease related proteins. The inhibition seems to take place in all kinds of cells, because the lower cancer frequency applies to nearly all types of tumors and is not related with the characteristic pathological changes in specific brain tissues. Further, the cancer repressing mechanisms appear to be active early in life including in pre-symptomatic and early phase polyQ patients. Autophagy plays a central role in clearing proteins with expanded polyQ tracts, and autophagy modulation has been demonstrated and particularly investigated in Huntington's disease (HD). Macroautophagy may be dysfunctional due to defects in several steps of the process, whereas increased chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA) has been shown in HD patients, cell and animal models. Recently, CMA is assumed to play a key role in prevention of cellular transformation of normal cells into cancer cells. Investigations of normal cells from HD and other polyQ carriers could therefore add further insight into the protective mechanisms of CMA in tumorigenesis, and be important for development of autophagy based strategies to prevent malignant processes leading to cancer and neurodegeneration.

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