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Mol Biol Cell. 2009 Jan;20(1):21-32. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E08-04-0441. Epub 2008 Oct 15.

Lysosome biogenesis mediated by vps-18 affects apoptotic cell degradation in Caenorhabditis elegans.

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Key laboratory of Molecular and Developmental Biology, Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.


Appropriate clearance of apoptotic cells (cell corpses) is an important step of programmed cell death. Although genetic and biochemical studies have identified several genes that regulate the engulfment of cell corpses, how these are degraded after being internalized in engulfing cell remains elusive. Here, we show that VPS-18, the Caenorhabditis elegans homologue of yeast Vps18p, is critical to cell corpse degradation. VPS-18 is expressed and functions in engulfing cells. Deletion of vps-18 leads to significant accumulation of cell corpses that are not degraded properly. Furthermore, vps-18 mutation causes strong defects in the biogenesis of endosomes and lysosomes, thus affecting endosomal/lysosomal protein degradation. Importantly, we demonstrate that phagosomes containing internalized cell corpses are unable to fuse with lysosomes in vps-18 mutants. Our findings thus provide direct evidence for the important role of endosomal/lysosomal degradation in proper clearance of apoptotic cells during programmed cell death.

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