Phagocytosis

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endocytosis

endocytosis (ĕnˌdōsītōˈsəs), in biology, process by which substances are taken into the cell. When the cell membrane comes into contact with a suitable food, a portion of the cell cytoplasm surges forward to meet and surround the material and a depression forms within the cell wall. The depression deepens and the movement of the cytoplasm continues until the food is completely engulfed in a pocket called a vessicle. The vessicle then drifts further into the body of the cell where it meets and fuses with a lysosome, a vessicle normally found in the cell that contains digestive enzymes known as acid hydrolases. The food is then broken down into molecules and ions that are suitable for the cell's use. There are two types of endocytosis: pinocytosis, the engulfing and digestion of dissolved substances, and phagocytosis, the engulfing and digestion of microscopically visible particles. Phagocytosis is the process by which many protozoans obtain most of their food supply. It is also the process through which specialized cells in animals eliminate foreign matter, such as infecting microorganisms, as part of the body's defense system (see blood; immunity). The various phagocytic cells in higher animals are derived from relatively unspecialized cells called stem cells that are either fixed within a network of supporting (reticular) cells and fibers of the spleen, thymus, and bone marrow, or that wander freely throughout body tissues. Many phagocytic cells respond chemically to substances produced by foreign bodies or by degenerating tissue by moving toward the substances, a mechanism known as chemotaxis. When a particle of the proper charge or chemical composition adheres to the cell surface, the cell cytoplasm moves so that it finally surrounds the particle and traps it within a cytoplasmic vacuole. Various enzymes are then secreted into the vacuole to digest the foreign substance. In higher animals each phagocyte can ingest about 5 to 25 invading bacterial cells. Phagocytosis often precedes production of antibodies by the body, but some species of bacteria cannot be phagocytized unless specific antibody is already present. Although phagocytosis is an effective response to infection, some organisms, such as the bacteria causing brucellosis and tuberculosis, can survive for years within the descendant cells of the phagocytes that ingested them. The process of phagocytosis was first described in the late 19th cent. by the Russian zoologist Élie Metchnikoff.
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Phagocytosis

A mechanism by which single cells of the animal kingdom, such as smaller protozoa, engulf and carry particles into the cytoplasm. It differs from endocytosis primarily in the size of the particle rather than in the mechanism; as particles approach the dimensions and solubility of macromolecules, cells take them up by the process of endocytosis.

Cells such as the free-living amebas or the wandering cells of the metazoa often can “sense” the direction of a potential food source and move toward it (chemotaxis). If, when the cell contacts the particle, the particle has the appropriate chemical composition, or surface charge, it adheres to the cell. The cell responds by forming a hollow, conelike cytoplasmic process around the particle, eventually surrounding it completely. Although the particle is internalized by this sequence of events, it is still enclosed in a portion of the cell's surface membrane and thus isolated from the cell's cytoplasm. The combined particle and membrane package is referred to as a food or phagocytic vacuole. See Vacuole

Ameboid cells of the metazoa also selectively remove foreign particles, bacteria, and other pathogens by phagocytosis. After the foreign particle or microorganism is trapped in a vacuole inside the macrophage, it is usually digested. To accomplish this, small packets (lysosomes) of lytic proenzymes are introduced into the phagocytic vacuole, where the enzymes are then dissolved and activated. See Lysosome

McGraw-Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Bioscience. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Phagocytosis

 

the engulfing and absorption of living and nonliving particles by unicellular organisms or specialized cells—phagocytes—in multicellular animals. Phagocytosis was discovered by E. Metchnikoff (I. I. Mechnikov), who traced its evolution and elucidated its function in the defense reactions of the higher animals and man, particularly those related to inflammation and immunity. The process plays a major role in the healing of wounds.

The ability to seize and digest particles, which is the basis of nutrition in primitive organisms, was gradually transferred in the course of evolution to certain specialized cells—initially to the digestive cells and later to some special cells in the connective tissues. In mammals and in man, the neutrophils (that is, micro-phages, or specialized leukocytes) and the reticuloendothelial cells are active phagocytes capable of being transformed into active macrophages. The neutrophils phagocytize small particles, such as bacteria, while macrophages can ingest such larger particles as dead cells and their nuclei and fragments. Marcrophages can also store the negatively charged particles of pigments and of colloidal substances. The ingestion of small colloidal particles is called ultraphagocytosis.

Phagocytosis—a process that requires the expenditure of energy—involves primarily the activity of the cell membrane and intracellular organoids, or lysosomes, which have a high content of hydrolytic enzymes. Phagocytosis proceeds in stages. After a phagocytable particle has attached itself to the cell membrane, an intracellular corpuscle, or phagosome, is formed by invagination of the membrane and the particle. Hydrolytic enzymes enter the phagosome from the surrounding lysosomes and digest the phagocytized particle. Depending on the particle’s physiochemi-cal properties, digestion may be complete or incomplete. In the latter case, a residual corpuscle is formed and may remain in the cell a long time.

REFERENCES

Mechnikov, I. I. Izbrannye biologicheskie proizvedeniia. Moscow, 1950.
Zil’ber, L. A. Osnovy immunologii, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1958.

N. G. KHRUSHCHOV

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

phagocytosis

[‚fag·ə‚sī′tō·səs]
(cell and molecular biology)
A specialized form of macropinocytosis in which cells engulf large solid objects such as bacteria and deliver the internalized objects to special digesting vacuoles; exists in certain cell types, such as macrophages and neutrophils.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Inhibition of cell surface export of group A streptococcal anchorless surface dehydrogenase affects bacterial adherence and antiphagocytic properties.
pestis and is an antiphagocytic protein capsule, the gene for which is located on the pFra plasmid.
zooepidemicus, is essential for the pathogenesis of the disease, at least in horses, where it binds fibrinogen and exhibits antiphagocytic activity that impairs with host protection.
Some strains have a membrane protein called protein M that inactivates complement and is antiphagocytic.
However, the matrix (M) protein, encoded by the emm gene, has the most critical role, mainly by antiphagocytic mechanisms (6,7), and the amino-terminal region of M protein is the most promising target for designing a vaccine (8,9).
pyogenes and SDSE in human hosts because it acts as an adhesin, invasin, and antiphagocytic factor (11).
The emm gene encoding the antiphagocytic M surface protein was not amplified in any of the 18 bovine GCS isolates; therefore, no emm types were obtained.