Editors' ChoiceCell Biology

How Cells Haul Down Their “Eat Me” Flags

Sci. Signal.  10 Jun 2014:
Vol. 7, Issue 329, pp. ec160
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2005572

Dead and dying cells expose a membrane lipid called phosphatidylserine (PS) on their cell surface as a sort of “eat me” signal. Segawa et al. identified the membrane enzyme responsible for flipping any PS that inadvertently makes its way from the inner to the outer leaflet of the plasma membrane lipid bilayer. Without the enzyme, macrophages gobbled up healthy cells.

K. Segawa, S. Kurata, Y. Yanagihashi, T. R. Brummelkamp, F. Matsuda, S. Nagata, Caspase-mediated cleavage of phospholipid flippase for apoptotic phosphatidylserine exposure. Science 344, 1164–1168 (2014). [Abstract] [Full Text]