Perry JSA, Morioka S, Medina CB, Iker Etchegaray J, Barron B, Raymond MH, Lucas CD, Onengut-Gumuscu S, Delpire E, Ravichandran KS. Interpreting an apoptotic corpse as anti-inflammatory involves a chloride sensing pathway. Nature cell biology. 2019 Dec;21(21). 1532-1543. PMID: 31792382 [PubMed]
Apoptotic cell clearance (efferocytosis) elicits an anti-inflammatory response by phagocytes, but the mechanisms that underlie this response are still being defined. Here, we uncover a chloride-sensing signalling pathway that controls both the phagocyte 'appetite' and its anti-inflammatory response. Efferocytosis transcriptionally altered the genes that encode the solute carrier (SLC) proteins SLC12A2 and SLC12A4. Interfering with SLC12A2 expression or function resulted in a significant increase in apoptotic corpse uptake per phagocyte, whereas the loss of SLC12A4 inhibited corpse uptake. In SLC12A2-deficient phagocytes, the canonical anti-inflammatory program was replaced by pro-inflammatory and oxidative-stress-associated gene programs. This 'switch' to pro-inflammatory sensing of apoptotic cells resulted from the disruption of the chloride-sensing pathway (and not due to corpse overload or poor degradation), including the chloride-sensing kinases WNK1, OSR1 and SPAK-which function upstream of SLC12A2-had a similar effect on efferocytosis. Collectively, the WNK1-OSR1-SPAK-SLC12A2/SLC12A4 chloride-sensing pathway and chloride flux in phagocytes are key modifiers of the manner in which phagocytes interpret the engulfed apoptotic corpse.