Understanding the diversity and dynamics of in vivo efferocytosis: Insights from the fly embryo

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Abstract / Description of output

The clearance of dead and dying cells, termed efferocytosis, is a rapid and efficient process and one that is critical for organismal health. The extraordinary speed and efficiency with which dead cells are detected and engulfed by immune cells within tissues presents a challenge to researchers who wish to unravel this fascinating process, since these fleeting moments of uptake are almost impossible to catch in vivo. In recent years, the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) embryo has emerged as a powerful model to circumvent this problem. With its abundance of dying cells, specialist phagocytes and relative ease of live imaging, the humble fly embryo provides a unique opportunity to catch and study the moment of cell engulfment in real-time within a living animal. In this review, we explore the recent advances that have come from studies in the fly, and how live imaging and genetics have revealed a previously unappreciated level of diversity in the efferocytic program. A variety of efferocytic strategies across the phagocytic cell population ensure efficient and rapid clearance of corpses wherever death is encountered within the varied and complex setting of a multicellular living organism.
Original languageEnglish
JournalImmunological reviews
Publication statusPublished - 17 Aug 2023


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