Visualizing the early stages of phagocytosis

Ali Rashidfarrokhi, Veronica Richina, Fikadu G. Tafesse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The mammalian body is equipped with various layers of mechanisms that help to defend itself from pathogen invasions. Professional phagocytes of the immune system — such as neutrophils, dendritic cells, and macrophages — retain the innate ability to detect and clear such invading pathogens through phagocytosis1. Phagocytosis involves choreographed events of membrane reorganization and actin remodeling at the cell surface2,3. Phagocytes successfully internalize and eradicate foreign molecules only when all stages of phagocytosis are fulfilled. These steps include recognition and binding of the pathogen by pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) residing at the cell surface, formation of phagocytic cup through actin-enriched membranous protrusions (pseudopods) to surround the particulate, and scission of the phagosome followed by phagolysosome maturation that results in the killing of the pathogen3,4. Imaging and quantification of various stages of phagocytosis is instrumental for elucidating the molecular mechanisms of this cellular process. The present manuscript reports methods to study the different phases of phagocytosis. We describe a microscope-based approach to visualize and quantify the binding, phagocytic cup formation, and the internalization of particulate by phagocytes. As phagocytosis occurs when innate receptors on phagocytic cells encounter ligands on a target particle bigger than 0.5 µm, the assays we present here comprise the use of pathogenic fungi Candida albicans and other particulates such as zymosan and IgG-coated beads.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere54646
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number120
StatePublished - Feb 3 2017


  • Actin remodeling
  • Candida albicans
  • Issue 120
  • Lipids
  • Live imaging
  • Microbiology
  • Microscopy
  • Phagocytic cup
  • Phagocytosis
  • Zymosan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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