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EMBO J. 2001 Dec 3;20(23):6772-82.

Calreticulin and calnexin in the endoplasmic reticulum are important for phagocytosis.

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Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie, D-82152 Martinsried, Germany.


Calreticulin and calnexin are Ca2+-binding proteins with chaperone activity in the endoplasmic reticulum. These proteins have been eliminated by gene replacement in Dictyostelium, the only microorganism known to harbor both proteins; family members in Dictyostelium are located at the base of phylogenetic trees. A dramatic decline in the rate of phagocytosis was observed in double mutants lacking calreticulin and calnexin, whereas only mild changes occurred in single mutants. Dictyostelium cells are professional phagocytes, capable of internalizing particles by a sequence of activities: adhesion of the particle to the cell surface, actin-dependent outgrowth of a phagocytic cup, and separation of the phagosome from the plasma membrane. In the double-null mutants, particles still adhered to the cell surface, but the outgrowth of phagocytic cups was compromised. Green fluorescent protein-tagged calreticulin and calnexin, expressed in wild-type cells, revealed a direct link of the endoplasmic reticulum to the phagocytic cup enclosing a particle, such that the Ca2+ storage capacity of calreticulin and calnexin might directly modulate activities of the actin system during particle uptake.

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