Protein & cell

To forge a solid immune recognition.

PMID 22717983


Phagocytosis and innate immune responses to solid structures are topics of interest and debate. Alum, monosodium urate, calcium pyrophosphate dehydrate, silica and by extension all solid entities draw varying degrees of attention from phagocytes, such as antigen presenting cells. For some, innocuous soluble metabolites turn into fierce irritants upon crystallization, pointing to divergent signaling mechanisms of a given substance in its soluble and solid states. Over the years, many mechanisms have been proposed, including phagocytic receptors, toll like receptors, and NACHT-LRRs (NLRs), as well as several other protein structure mediated recognition of the solids. Is there a more general mechanism for sensing solids? In this perspective, I present an alternative view on the topic that membrane lipids can engage solid surfaces, and the binding intensity leads to cellular activation. I argue from the stands of evolution and biological necessity, as well as the progression of our understanding of cellular membranes and phagocytosis. The effort is to invite debate of the topic from a less familiar yet equally thrilling viewing angle.

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Calcium phosphate, amorphous, nanopowder, <150 nm particle size (BET)