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Curr Biol. 1999 Nov 18;9(22):1351-4.

The human homologue of Caenorhabditis elegans CED-6 specifically promotes phagocytosis of apoptotic cells.

Author information

1
Devgen N.V., Gent, 9052, Belgium. elke.smits@devgen.com

Abstract

A key feature of the process of programmed cell death (apoptosis) is the efficiency with which the dying cells are recognized and engulfed by phagocytes [1]. Apoptotic cells are rapidly cleared either by neighbouring cells acting as semi-professional phagocytes or by experts of the macrophage line, so that an inflammatory response is avoided [2]. The Caenorhabditis elegans gene ced-6 is required for efficient engulfment of apoptotic cells [3] and is one of a group of genes that define two partially redundant parallel pathways for the engulfment process [4] [5]. These pathways may be conserved across evolution, as two other engulfment genes have human homologues. A CED-5 homologue is part of a human CrkII-DOCK180-Rac signaling pathway proposed to mediate cytoskeletal reorganization [6] [7] [8] and a CED-7 homologue is similar to the ABC transporters [9] [10]. Here, we report the cloning and characterization of human CED-6, a human homologue of C. elegans CED-6. The 34 kDa hCED-6 protein is expressed in most tissues, some human cancer cells, and in primary human macrophages. We developed an assay that quantitates the phagocytic activity of mammalian macrophages: the number of apoptotic cells that have been internalized is measured by the uptake of lacZ-positive apoptotic cells by adherent transgenic macrophages. The results of this assay demonstrate that overexpression of hCED-6 promotes phagocytosis only of apoptotic cells and suggest that hCED-6 is the mammalian orthologue of C. elegans CED-6 and is a part of a highly conserved pathway that specifically mediates the phagocytosis of apoptotic cells.

PMID:
10574763
DOI:
10.1016/s0960-9822(00)80062-7
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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