Etchegaray, J.I. (Ravichandran)
Phagocytosis is a specialized form of endocytosis required for the internalization of large particles such as apoptotic cells and bacteria. Throughout evolution, the molecular components used for phagocytosis have largely been shared with those used for other forms of endocytosis. With the advent of the innate immune system, the components required for phagocytosis and endocytosis become uncoupled from one another, thereby reducing the overlap of proteins used by both systems. Such is the case with cells of the immune system that are specialized to phagocytose, known as professional phagocytes (macrophages, dendritic cells, etc.). However, cells outside the immune system that routinely engage in phagocytosis (non-professional phagocytes) still use the ancestral form of the process, i.e. the process that uses components that other forms of endocytosis use. My research focuses on how the coupling and uncoupling of phagocytosis from endocytosis contributes to homeostasis and disease. Specifically, I am interested in whether non-professional phagocytes change from the ancestral form of phagocytosis to that used in macrophages during inflammation and how that may contribute to the development of schizophrenia and asthma.