Hoffmann et al. use a clever trick to get around the complexity of the surface of an apoptotic cell. Instead of apoptotic cells they use a novel target: red blood cells coated with a sandwich of biotin, avidin, and a single biotinylated protein. This allows them to test the function of a single protein in phagocyte recognition, rather than having to interpret the results of blocking experiments, which are complicated by redundancy and an inability to tell which step is being blocked.

Attachment is mediated by targets of any one of the many proposed receptors. But only added PS results in engulfment. The PS stimulates macropinocytosis, a process in which the cell takes large gulps from its surroundings by forming membrane ruffles that fold over and fuse to each other. In contrast, classic, receptor-mediated endocytosis involves the extension of a single pseudopod via sequential receptor...

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