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Autophagy and Apoptosis Crosstalk

Exploring the regulatory relationships between autophagy and apoptosis utilizing genetic, genomic, molecular and proteomic approaches in Drosophila and mammalian model systems.

Project Leaders Sharon Gorski
Project Co-Investigators Gregg Morin
Involved Organizations
Funding Agencies
An image from the InCell Analyzer showing the Autophagy LC3 protein in GFP and DAPI in blue.

InCell Analyzer LC3 Drosophila


The study of autophagy in human health is a new research field that has recently generated tremendous attention due to the recognition that autophagy is involved in multiple developmental processes and various human diseases including cancer. Autophagy is an evolutionary conserved mechanism that functions as an adaptive survival response to nutrient deprivation and other cellular stresses, though in some settings it can lead alternatively to cell death. Apoptosis, a well-characterized form of cell death, is another cellular process activated in response to stress. Recent studies indicate that a complex relationship exists between autophagy and apoptosis, and that the interplay between these two processes determines whether a cell will live or die. Since both autophagy and apoptosis are important for normal development and human disease pathogenesis, it is crucial to understand how they interact to determine these opposing cell fates.

The overarching objective of this project is to elucidate regulatory relationships between autophagy and apoptosis at the molecular level. Current avenues of investigation include determining the molecular mechanisms of caspase-mediated autophagy, identifiying factors involved in promoting a cell death versus cell survival role for autophagy, and exploring evolutionary conservation of autophagy-apoptosis relationships.


Recent Publications by our Research Team:

  • Chittaranjan S, Bortnik S, Gorski SMMonitoring Autophagic Flux by Using Lysosomal Inhibitors and Western Blotting of Endogenous MAP1LC3B. Cold Spring Harbor Protocols. 2015 Aug 3;2015(8):pdb.prot086256
  • Chittaranjan S, Xu J, Dullat HK, Wilton J, DeVorkin L, Lebovitz C, Morin GB, Marra MA, Gorski SM.  The Drosophila TIPE family member Sigmar interacts with the Ste20-like kinase Misshapen and modulates JNK signaling, cytoskeletal remodeling and autophagyBiology Open.  2015 Apr 2;4(5):672-84.
  • Lebovitz CB, Robertson AG, Goya R, Jones SJ, Morin RD, Marra MA, Gorski SMCross-cancer profiling of molecular alterations within the human autophagy interaction network. Autophagy. 2015 Sep 2;11(9):1668-87.
  • Puleston D, Phadwal K, Watson AS, Soilleux EJ, Chittaranjan S, Bortnik S, Gorski SM, Ktistakis N, Simon AK. Techniques for the Detection of Autophagy in Primary Mammalian Cells. Cold Spring Harbor Protocols. 2015 Sep 1;2015(9):pdb.top070391.


Contact Information

For all project related inquires please contact us.

Stephanie McInnis, Project Manager
Genome Sciences Centre, BC Cancer Agency
Phone: 604-675-8000 x 7965
Fax: 604-675-8178