Efficient clearance of apoptotic cells is essential for tissue homeostasis, allowing for cellular turnover without inflammatory consequences. The Mer (Nyk and c-Eyk) receptor tyrosine kinase (Mertk) is involved in two aspects of apoptotic cell clearance by acting as a receptor for Gas6, a γ-carboxylated phosphatidylserine-binding protein that bridges apoptotic and viable cells. First, Mertk acts in a bona fide engulfment pathway in concert with αvβ5 integrin by regulating cytoskeletal assemblages, and second, it acts as a negative regulator for inflammation by down-modulating pro-inflammatory signals mediated from bacterial lipopolysaccharide-Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) signaling, and hence recapitulating anti-inflammatory immune modulation by apoptotic cells. Here we describe Mertk postreceptor events that govern phagocytosis and cytoskeletal signaling are principally mediated by autophosphorylation site Tyr-867. Using the Mertk Y867F mutant and pharmacological inhibitors, we show that Tyr-867 is required for phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase and phospholipase Cγ2 activation; their activation in turn elicits protein kinase C-dependent signals that act on the actin cytoskeleton. Although MertkY867F blocked the tyrosine phosphorylation of FAK on Tyr-861 and p130cas and also abrogated the phagocytosis of apoptotic cells, this mutant did not suppress lipopolysaccharide-inducible NF-κB transcription, nor was NF-κB activation dependent on the protein kinase C inhibitor, calphostin C. Finally, unlike the cytoskeletal events associated with Tyr-867 autophosphorylation, the transinhibition of NF-κB occurred in a postnuclear-dependent fashion independent of cytosolic IκB phosphorylation and p65/RelA sequestration. Taken together, these data suggest that Mertk has distinct and separable effects for phagocytosis and for resolving inflammation, providing a molecular rationale for how immune licensing and inflammation can be dissociated from phagocytosis in a single phagocytic receptor.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology