Departmental Papers (CBE)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

March 2008


Phagocytosis of foreign cells or particles by macrophages is a rapid process that is inefficient when faced with "self" cells that display CD47—although signaling mechanisms in self-recognition have remained largely unknown. With human macrophages, we show the phagocytic synapse at cell contacts involves a basal level of actin-driven phagocytosis that, in the absence of species-specific CD47 signaling, is made more efficient by phospho-activated myosin. We use "foreign" sheep red blood cells (RBCs) together with CD47-blocked, antibody-opsonized human RBCs in order to visualize synaptic accumulation of phosphotyrosine, paxillin, F-actin, and the major motor isoform, nonmuscle myosin-IIA. When CD47 is functional, the macrophage counter-receptor and phosphatase-activator SIRPα localizes to the synapse, suppressing accumulation of phosphotyrosine and myosin without affecting F-actin. On both RBCs and microbeads, human CD47 potently inhibits phagocytosis as does direct inhibition of myosin. CD47–SIRPα interaction initiates a dephosphorylation cascade directed in part at phosphotyrosine in myosin. A point mutation turns off this motor's contribution to phagocytosis, suggesting that self-recognition inhibits contractile engulfment.


Copyright The Rockefeller University Press. This research was originally published in The Journal of Cell Biology, Volume 180, Issue 5, March 2008, pages 989-1003.
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Date Posted: 20 March 2008

This document has been peer reviewed.