Multivesicular bodies and autophagy in erythrocyte maturation

Autophagy. Apr-Jun 2006;2(2):122-5. doi: 10.4161/auto.2.2.2350. Epub 2006 Apr 22.


During reticulocyte maturation, hematopoietic progenitors undergo numerous changes to reach the final functional stage which concludes with the release of reticulocytes and erythrocytes into circulation. During this process some proteins, which are not required in the mature stage, are sequestered in the internal vesicles present in multivesicular bodies (MVBs). These small vesicles are known as exosomes because they are released into the extracellular medium by fusion of the MVB with the plasma membrane. Interestingly, during this maturation process some organelles, such as mitochondria and endoplasmic reticulum, are wrapped in double membrane vacuoles and degraded via autophagy. We have demonstrated in human leukemic K562 cells a role for calcium and Rab11 in the biogenesis of MVBs and exosome release. Here we discuss evidence indicating that K562 cells present a high basal level of autophagy, and that there is an association between MVBs and autophagosomes, suggesting a role for the autophagic pathway in the maturation process of this cell type.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autophagy / physiology*
  • CHO Cells
  • Calcium / physiology
  • Cell Membrane / physiology
  • Cricetinae
  • Cricetulus
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / physiology
  • Endosomes / physiology
  • Erythrocytes / physiology*
  • Erythropoiesis / physiology*
  • Humans
  • K562 Cells
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / physiology
  • Organelles / physiology*
  • Reticulocytes / physiology
  • rab GTP-Binding Proteins / physiology


  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • light chain 3, human
  • rab11 protein
  • rab GTP-Binding Proteins
  • Calcium