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Curr Biol. 2007 Jun 5;17(11):994-9.

Aminophospholipid translocase TAT-1 promotes phosphatidylserine exposure during C. elegans apoptosis.

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1
Institute of Molecular Biology, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland.

Abstract

Phospholipids are distributed asymmetrically across the plasma-membrane bilayer of eukaryotic cells: Phosphatidylserine (PS), phosphatidylethanolamine, and phosphoinositides are predominantly restricted to the inner leaflet, whereas phophatidylcholine and sphingolipids are enriched on the outer leaflet [1, 2]. Exposure of PS on the cell surface is a conserved feature of apoptosis and plays an important role in promoting the clearance of apoptotic cells by phagocytosis [3]. However, the molecular mechanism that drives PS exposure remains mysterious. To address this issue, we studied cell-surface changes during apoptosis in the nematode C. elegans. Here, we show that PS exposure can readily be detected on apoptotic C. elegans cells. We generated a transgenic strain expressing a GFP::Annexin V reporter to screen for genes required for this process. Although none of the known engulfment genes was required, RNAi knockdown of the putative aminophospholipid transporter gene tat-1 abrogated PS exposure on apoptotic cells. tat-1(RNAi) also reduced the efficiency of cell-corpse clearance, suggesting that PS exposure acts as an "eat-me" signal in worms. We propose that tat-1 homologs might also play an important role in PS exposure in mammals.

PMID:
17540571
DOI:
10.1016/j.cub.2007.05.024
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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