Home  /  王晓晨研究组  /  Projects  /  Phagocytosis

  Employing combinatory approaches of genetics, cell biology and biochemistry, we have been systemically identifying new genes and dissecting regulatory mechanisms controlling various aspects of apoptotic cell removal including recognition, internalization and degradation of cell corpses. Among them, TTR-52 and NRF-5 are bridging molecules that mediate recognition of cell corpses (Wang et al., Nat Cell Biol 2010; Zhang et al., Curr Biol 2012; Kang et al., Genes Dev. 2012). Myotubularin phosphatase MTM-1 coordinates with PI3 kinases PIKI-1 and VPS-34 to control initiation and completion of cell corpse engulfment (Zou et al., PLos Genet 2009; Cheng et al., JCB 2015, Liu et al., JCB 2018). Multiple Rab GTPases coordinate to regulate phagosome maturation and lysosomal degradation of apoptotic cells (Lu et al., Development 2008; Li et al., Development 2009; Guo et al., PNAS 2010, Yin et al., JCB 2017). Moreover, we found that non-apoptotic targets like residual bodies generated during spermatogenesis are recognized and cleared by the same molecular machinery that removes apoptotic cells (Huang et al., Development 2012). In addition, we demonstrate that the autophagy pathway contributes to cell corpse clearance through the PI3 kinase VPS-34 (Cheng et al., Autophagy 2013). These findings have greatly advanced our understanding of how apoptotic cells are properly removed via the lysosome-dependent degradation pathways. Our current and planned research will focus on the regulatory machinery controlling cell corpse degradation. As evolutionarily conserved mechanisms are utilized to remove apoptotic cells, our studies in C. elegans will deepen our understanding of this key process in both worms and mammals. 


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