The Role of Trogocytosis in the Modulation of Immune Cell Functions

Cells. 2021 May 19;10(5):1255. doi: 10.3390/cells10051255.


Trogocytosis is an active process, in which one cell extracts the cell fragment from another cell, leading to the transfer of cell surface molecules, together with membrane fragments. Recent reports have revealed that trogocytosis can modulate various biological responses, including adaptive and innate immune responses and homeostatic responses. Trogocytosis is evolutionally conserved from protozoan parasites to eukaryotic cells. In some cases, trogocytosis results in cell death, which is utilized as a mechanism for antibody-dependent cytotoxicity (ADCC). In other cases, trogocytosis-mediated intercellular protein transfer leads to both the acquisition of novel functions in recipient cells and the loss of cellular functions in donor cells. Trogocytosis in immune cells is typically mediated by receptor-ligand interactions, including TCR-MHC interactions and Fcγ receptor-antibody-bound molecule interactions. Additionally, trogocytosis mediates the transfer of MHC molecules to various immune and non-immune cells, which confers antigen-presenting activity on non-professional antigen-presenting cells. In this review, we summarize the recent advances in our understanding of the role of trogocytosis in immune modulation.

Keywords: Fcγ receptor; NK receptor; T cell receptor (TCR); Th2 differentiation; antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC); cross-dressing; intracellular bacteria; major histocompatibility complex (MHC); trogocytosis.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't