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Trends Cell Biol. 2008 Oct;18(10):474-85. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2008.08.002. Epub 2008 Sep 4.

Phagosome maturation during the removal of apoptotic cells: receptors lead the way.

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  • 1Verna and Marrs McLean Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


In metazoan organisms, cells undergoing apoptosis are rapidly engulfed and degraded by phagocytes. Defects in apoptotic-cell clearance result in inflammatory and autoimmune responses. However, little is known about how apoptotic-cell degradation is initiated and regulated and how different phagocytic targets induce different immune responses from their phagocytes. Recent studies in mammalian systems and invertebrate model organisms have led to major progress in identifying new factors involved in the maturation of phagosomes containing apoptotic cells. These studies have delineated signaling pathways that promote the sequential incorporation of intracellular organelles to phagosomes and have also discovered that phagocytic receptors produce the signals that initiate phagosome maturation. Here, we discuss these exciting new findings, focusing on the mechanisms that regulate the interactions between intracellular organelles and phagosomes.

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