Physiological Reviews

Role of Phospholipids in Endocytosis, Phagocytosis, and Macropinocytosis

Michal Bohdanowicz, Sergio Grinstein


Endocytosis, phagocytosis, and macropinocytosis are fundamental processes that enable cells to sample their environment, eliminate pathogens and apoptotic bodies, and regulate the expression of surface components. While a great deal of effort has been devoted over many years to understanding the proteins involved in these processes, the important contribution of phospholipids has only recently been appreciated. This review is an attempt to collate and analyze the rapidly emerging evidence documenting the role of phospholipids in clathrin-mediated endocytosis, phagocytosis, and macropinocytosis. A primer on phospholipid biosynthesis, catabolism, subcellular distribution, and transport is presented initially, for reference, together with general considerations of the effects of phospholipids on membrane curvature and charge. This is followed by a detailed analysis of the critical functions of phospholipids in the internalization processes and in the maturation of the resulting vesicles and vacuoles as they progress along the endo-lysosomal pathway.

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