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FEBS J. 2017 Nov;284(22):3778-3790. doi: 10.1111/febs.14115. Epub 2017 Jun 5.

Drinking problems: mechanisms of macropinosome formation and maturation.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences, Centre for Membrane Interactions and Dynamics, University of Sheffield, UK.
Bateson Centre, University of Sheffield, UK.


Macropinocytosis is a mechanism for the nonspecific bulk uptake and internalisation of extracellular fluid. This plays specific and distinct roles in diverse cell types such as macrophages, dendritic cells and neurons, by allowing cells to sample their environment, extract extracellular nutrients and regulate plasma membrane turnover. Macropinocytosis has recently been implicated in several diseases including cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and atherosclerosis. Uptake by macropinocytosis is also exploited by several intracellular pathogens to gain entry into host cells. Both capturing and subsequently processing large volumes of extracellular fluid poses a number of unique challenges for the cell. Macropinosome formation requires coordinated three-dimensional manipulation of the cytoskeleton to form shaped protrusions able to entrap extracellular fluid. The following maturation of these large vesicles then involves a complex series of membrane rearrangements to shrink and concentrate their contents, while delivering components required for digestion and recycling. Recognition of the diverse importance of macropinocytosis in physiology and disease has prompted a number of recent studies. In this article, we summarise advances in our understanding of both macropinosome formation and maturation, and seek to highlight the important unanswered questions.


macropinocytosis; macropinosome; phagocytosis; phosphoinositides; vesicle trafficking

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