Apoptotic cell-derived ICAM-3 promotes both macrophage chemoattraction to and tethering of apoptotic cells

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Damaged, aged or unwanted cells are removed from the body by an active process known as apoptosis. This highly orchestrated programme results in cell disassembly and the exposure of ‘flags’ at the dying cell surface that permit recognition and removal by viable cells (phagocytes). Efficient phagocytic removal of dying cells is essential to prevent inflammatory and autoimmune disorders.

Relatively little is known of the molecular mechanisms underlying changes at the apoptotic cell surface. We have previously shown that ICAM-3 (a heavily glycosylated, leukocyte-restricted Immunoglobulin Super-Family member) undergoes a change of function as cells die so that it acts as a molecular ‘flag’ to mediate corpse removal. Our work seeks to characterise apoptosis-associated changes in ICAM-3 and define their role in ICAM-3’s novel function in apoptotic cell clearance.

Here we extend earlier studies to show that apoptotic cell-associated ICAM-3 functions, at least minimally, to tether apoptotic leukocytes to macrophages via an undefined receptor. Whilst CD14 has been suggested as a possible innate immune receptor for apoptotic cell-associated ICAM-3, we demonstrate ICAM-3 functions for apoptotic cell clearance in the absence of CD14. Our data additionally indicate, that during apoptosis, leukocytes display early changes in cell surface glycosylation and a marked reduction in ICAM-3, a change that correlates with a reduction in cell volume. This reduction in ICAM-3 is explained by cell surface shedding of microparticles (‘apoptotic bodies’) that contain ICAM-3. Such microparticles, released from apoptotic leukocytes, are strongly chemoattractive for macrophages. In addition, microparticles from ICAM-3-deficient leukocytes are significantly less chemoattractive than microparticles from their ICAM-3-replete counterparts.

Taken together these data support the hypothesis that ICAM-3 acts as an apoptotic cell-associated ligand to tether dying cells to phagocytes in a CD14-independent manner. Furthermore our data suggest that released ICAM-3 may promote the recruitment of phagocytes to sites of leukocyte apoptosis.

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Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2011
EventApoptotic Cell Recognition & Clearance Gordon-Kenan Research Seminar/ Apoptotic Cell Recognition & Clearance Gordon Research Conference - Lewiston , United States
Duration: 16 Jul 201117 Jul 2011


ConferenceApoptotic Cell Recognition & Clearance Gordon-Kenan Research Seminar/ Apoptotic Cell Recognition & Clearance Gordon Research Conference
CountryUnited States

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