Molecular mechanism of apoptotic cell disassembly

Apoptosis (programmed cell death) occurs in essentially all tissues as part of development, homeostasis, and pathogenic processes including infection and cardiovascular disorders. Apoptotic cells often disassemble into smaller membrane-bound extracellular vesicles called apoptotic bodies.

Recently, we demonstrated that the formation of apoptotic bodies is a highly regulated process in T lymphocytes and monocytes. In particular, we discovered a new type of membrane protrusion (coined "apoptopodia") that facilitates the separation of membrane blebs during apoptosis to generate individual apoptotic bodies. However, the molecular machinery that controls the formation of apoptopodia is undefined. In this project, we aim to determine the molecular machineries that are required for the formation of apoptopodia.