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J. Biol. Chem. 284 (34): 22512-22516

© 2009 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.

Suicidal Membrane Repair Regulates Phosphatidylserine Externalization during Apoptosis*{diamondsuit}

Banafsheh Mirnikjoo, Krishnakumar Balasubramanian, , and Alan J. Schroit1

From the Department of Cancer Biology, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030

ABSTRACT Back to Top

Abstract: One of the hallmarks of apoptosis is the redistribution of phosphatidylserine (PS) from the inner-to-outer plasma membrane (PM) leaflet, where it functions as a ligand for phagocyte recognition and the suppression of inflammatory responses. The mechanism by which apoptotic cells externalize PS has been assumed to involve "scramblases" that randomize phospholipids across the PM bilayer. These putative activities, however, have not been unequivocally proven to be responsible for the redistribution of lipids. Because elevated cytosolic Ca2+ is critical to this process and is also required for activation of lysosome-PM fusion during membrane repair, we hypothesized that apoptosis could activate a "pseudo"-membrane repair response that results in the fusion of lysosomes with the PM. Using a membrane-specific probe that labels endosomes and lysosomes and fluorescein-labeled annexin 5 that labels PS, we show that the appearance of PS at the cell surface during apoptosis is dependent on the fusion of lysosomes with the PM, a process that is inhibited with the lysosomotrophe, chloroquine. We demonstrate that apoptotic cells evoke a persistent pseudo-membrane repair response that likely redistributes lysosomal-derived PS to the PM outer leaflet that leads to membrane expansion and the formation of apoptotic blebs. Our data suggest that inhibition of lysosome-PM fusion-dependent redistribution of PS that occurs as a result of chemotherapy- and radiotherapy-induced apoptosis will prevent PS-dependent anti-inflammatory responses that preclude the development of tumor- and patient-specific immune responses.

Received for publication May 20, 2009. Revision received June 14, 2009.

1 To whom correspondence should be addressed: M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Dept. of Cancer Biology, 1515 Holcombe Blvd., Houston, TX 77030. Tel.: 713-792-8586; Fax: 713-792-8747; E-mail: aschroit{at}

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