Three sorting nexins drive the degradation of apoptotic cells in response to PtdIns(3)P signaling

Mol Biol Cell. 2011 Feb 1;22(3):354-74. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E10-09-0756.


Apoptotic cells are swiftly engulfed by phagocytes and degraded inside phagosomes. Phagosome maturation requires phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate [PtdIns(3)P], yet how PtdIns(3)P triggers phagosome maturation remains largely unknown. Through a genomewide PtdIns(3)P effector screen in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans , we identified LST-4/SNX9, SNX-1, and SNX-6, three BAR domain-containing sorting nexins, that act in two parallel pathways to drive PtdIns(3)P-mediated degradation of apoptotic cells. We found that these proteins were enriched on phagosomal surfaces through association with PtdIns(3)P and through specific protein-protein interaction, and they promoted the fusion of early endosomes and lysosomes to phagosomes, events essential for phagosome maturation. Specifically, LST-4 interacts with DYN-1 (dynamin), an essential phagosome maturation initiator, to strengthen DYN-1's association to phagosomal surfaces, and facilitates the maintenance of the RAB-7 GTPase on phagosomal surfaces. Furthermore, both LST-4 and SNX-1 promote the extension of phagosomal tubules to facilitate the docking and fusion of intracellular vesicles. Our findings identify the critical and differential functions of two groups of sorting nexins in phagosome maturation and reveal a signaling cascade initiated by phagocytic receptor CED-1, mediated by PtdIns(3)P, and executed through these sorting nexins to degrade apoptotic cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / cytology
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / metabolism*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / metabolism
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / physiology*
  • Dynamins / metabolism
  • Dynamins / physiology
  • Endosomes / metabolism
  • Lysosomes / metabolism
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Phagocytosis / physiology
  • Phagosomes / metabolism
  • Phosphatidylinositol Phosphates / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Sorting Nexins / genetics
  • Sorting Nexins / metabolism
  • Sorting Nexins / physiology*


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Phosphatidylinositol Phosphates
  • SNX-1 protein, C elegans
  • SNX-6 protein, C elegans
  • Sorting Nexins
  • ced-1 protein, C elegans
  • lst-4 protein, C elegans
  • phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate
  • Dyn-1 protein, C elegans
  • Dynamins