Phagosome maturation during the removal of apoptotic cells: receptors lead the way

Trends Cell Biol. 2008 Oct;18(10):474-85. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2008.08.002. Epub 2008 Sep 4.


In metazoan organisms, cells undergoing apoptosis are rapidly engulfed and degraded by phagocytes. Defects in apoptotic-cell clearance result in inflammatory and autoimmune responses. However, little is known about how apoptotic-cell degradation is initiated and regulated and how different phagocytic targets induce different immune responses from their phagocytes. Recent studies in mammalian systems and invertebrate model organisms have led to major progress in identifying new factors involved in the maturation of phagosomes containing apoptotic cells. These studies have delineated signaling pathways that promote the sequential incorporation of intracellular organelles to phagosomes and have also discovered that phagocytic receptors produce the signals that initiate phagosome maturation. Here, we discuss these exciting new findings, focusing on the mechanisms that regulate the interactions between intracellular organelles and phagosomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / metabolism
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / metabolism*
  • Dendritic Cells / metabolism
  • Drosophila / metabolism
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Phagocytosis / physiology
  • Phagosomes / metabolism*
  • Phagosomes / physiology
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism
  • Phosphatidylinositol Phosphates / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • rab GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • rab5 GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Phosphatidylinositol Phosphates
  • phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • rab GTP-Binding Proteins
  • rab5 GTP-Binding Proteins