Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Interdisciplinary Graduate Program


NeuroNexus Neuroscience Institute

First Thesis Advisor

Eric Baehrecke, PhD


Autophagy, Cell Death, Cell Survival, MicroRNAs


Dissertations, UMMS; Autophagy; Cell Death; Cell Survival; MicroRNAs


Autophagy delivers cytoplasmic material to the lysosome for degradation, and has been implicated in many cellular processes, including stress, infection, survival, and death. Although the regulation and role that autophagy plays in stress, infection, and survival is apparent, its involvement during cell death remains relatively unclear. In this thesis I summarize what is known about the roles autophagy can play in cell death, and the differences between the utilization of autophagy during nutrient deprivation and cell death. Utilizing Drosophila melanogaster as a model system, the roles autophagy plays in both of these contexts can be studied. The goal of this thesis is to provide a better understanding of the regulatory mechanisms that distinguish between autophagy as a survival mechanism and autophagy as a cell death mechanism. From my studies I was able to determine that microRNAs can regulate autophagy in vivo, and that the microRNA miR-14 controls autophagy specifically during the destruction of the larval salivary glands of Drosophila melanogaster. I found that miR-14 regulates autophagy through modulation of IP3 and calcium signaling, and this miR-14 control of IP3 and calcium signaling does not influence the induction of autophagy during nutrient deprivation. Therefore, this knowledge demonstrates how autophagy can be regulated to distinguish its use during cell survival and death providing insight into how autophagy can used to treat diseases.



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