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Antioxid Redox Signal. 2004 Apr;6(2):269-75.

Plasma membrane alterations during apoptosis: role in corpse clearance.

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Division of Toxicology, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.


Apoptosis is a program of cellular self-destruction culminating in the clearance of cell corpses by neighboring macrophages. Studies in recent years have served to characterize a number of structural and molecular plasma membrane alterations that act in concert to mediate efficient engulfment of cell corpses. Hence, "eat me" signals, including the anionic phospholipid phosphatidylserine (PS) and its oxidized counterpart, PS-OX, as well as the PS-binding protein, annexin I, are exposed on the surface of effete cells and function to mediate engulfment by neighboring phagocytic cells. Plasma membrane blebbing (zeiosis), a common feature of the apoptotic program, provides a structural context for the exposition of recognition signals insofar as PS molecules aggregate on the surface of these membrane protrusions. Apoptotic cells also secrete chemotactic factors ("seek me" signals), such as the phospholipid lysophosphatidylcholine, that recruit phagocytes to the site of the apoptotic lesion. Taken together, these events serve to mediate the disposal of effete cells prior to their necrotic disintegration, thus preventing the inflammation and tissue scarring that would otherwise ensue.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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