Autophagy is an evolutionary conserved catabolic process that allows for the degradation of intracellular components by lysosomes. This process can be triggered by nutrient deprivation, microbial infections or other challenges to promote cell survival under these stressed conditions. However, basal levels of autophagy are also crucial for the maintenance of proper cellular homeostasis by ensuring the selective removal of protein aggregates and dysfunctional organelles. A tight regulation of this process is essential for cellular survival and organismal health. Indeed, deregulation of autophagy is associated with a broad range of pathologies such as neuronal degeneration, inflammatory diseases, and cancer progression. Ubiquitination and deubiquitination of autophagy substrates, as well as components of the autophagic machinery, are critical regulatory mechanisms of autophagy. Here, we review the main evidence implicating deubiquitinating enzymes (DUBs) in the regulation of autophagy. We also discuss how they may constitute new therapeutic opportunities in the treatment of pathologies such as cancers, neurodegenerative diseases or infections.
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