CELL BIOLOGY: Breaking and Entering

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Science  26 Jul 2002:
Vol. 297, Issue 5581, pp. 479a
DOI: 10.1126/science.297.5581.479a

In fighting invading pathogens, the body's defenses include the engulfment of incoming pathogens by macrophages in the blood. This process is known as phagocytosis and involves the recruitment of intracellular membrane to the cell surface to produce a vacuole containing the unwelcome intruder. The resulting vacuole then fuses with the cell's degradative organelles, the lysosomes, and the invader is destroyed. Gagnon et al. examined the early stages of phagocytosis in macrophages and discovered that a major source of additional membrane for the formation of phagosomes is the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). The ER is the entry site of the secretory pathway and would not generally communicate directly with the plasma membrane. In other phagocytic cells, the neutrophils, ER is not used as a source of phagocytic membrane, and pathogen killing is more rapid. Certain pathogens may be able to exploit this process in macrophages to set up a protected niche within which they can multiply. — SMH

Cell 110, 119 (2002).

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