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J Leukoc Biol. 2005 Jun;77(6):878-85. Epub 2005 Feb 23.

The nature of the phagosomal membrane: endoplasmic reticulum versus plasmalemma.

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  • 1Programme in Cell Biology, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


For decades, the vacuole that surrounds particles engulfed by phagocytosis was believed to originate from the plasma membrane. Conversion of the nascent phagosome into a microbicidal organelle was thought to result from the subsequent, orderly fusion of early endosomes, late endosomes, and ultimately, lysosomes with the original plasma membrane-derived vacuole. This conventional model has been challenged, if not superseded, by a revolutionary model that regards phagosome formation as resulting from the particle sliding into the endoplasmic reticulum via an opening at the base of the phagocytic cup. The merits and implications of these two hypotheses are summarized here and analyzed in light of recent results.

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