Involvement of the p62/NRF2 signal transduction pathway on erythrophagocytosis

Sci Rep. 2017 Jul 19;7(1):5812. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-05687-1.


Erythrophagocytosis, the phagocytic removal of damaged red blood cells (RBC), and subsequent phagolysosome biogenesis are important processes in iron/heme metabolism and homeostasis. Phagolysosome biogenesis implies the interaction of nascent phagosomes with endocytic compartments and also autophagy effectors. Here, we report that besides recruitment of microtubule-associated protein-1-light chain 3 (LC3), additional autophagy machinery such as sequestosome 1 (p62) is also acquired by single-membrane phagosomes at very early stages of the phagocytic process and that its acquisition is very important to the outcome of the process. In bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMDM) silenced for p62, RBC degradation is inhibited. P62, is also required for nuclear translocation and activation of the transcription factor Nuclear factor E2-related Factor 2 (NRF2) during erythrophagocytosis. Deletion of the Nrf2 allele reduces p62 expression and compromises RBC degradation. In conclusion, we reveal that erythrophagocytosis relies on an interplay between p62 and NRF2, potentially acting as protective mechanism to maintain reactive oxygen species at basal levels and preserve macrophage homeostasis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autophagy
  • Cell Line
  • Erythrocytes / cytology*
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Space / metabolism
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2 / metabolism*
  • Phagocytosis*
  • Phagosomes / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • Rabbits
  • Sequestosome-1 Protein / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Ubiquitin / metabolism


  • Map1lc3b protein, mouse
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2
  • Sequestosome-1 Protein
  • Sqstm1 protein, mouse
  • Ubiquitin