ELMO1 signaling in apoptotic germ cell clearance and spermatogenesis

Michael R. Elliott, Kodi S. Ravichandran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Apoptosis and the subsequent removal of dying cells are crucial processes for tissue development and maintenance. Although we are beginning to understand the signaling pathways that control the phagocytic clearance of apoptotic cells, the physiological relevance of these pathways is lacking. During spermatogenesis, over half of the developing germ cells eventually die by apoptosis, yet the signaling pathways that regulate the phagocytic clearance of these dying cells or the impact of this clearance on development and maintenance of the germ cell population is not well understood. The ELMO1/Dock180 proteins form an evolutionarily conserved signaling module that functions as a bipartite guanine nucleotide exchange factor for the small GTPase Rac. The subsequent Rac-dependent cytoskeletal changes play an important role in the physical engulfment of apoptotic cells. Recent findings demonstrate an in vivo role for ELMO1-dependent clearance in the testes, with implications for spermatogenesis. Here we will discuss the role of apoptotic cell clearance during spermatogenesis, with a particular emphasis on ELMO1/Dock180 signaling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-36
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2010


  • Apoptosis
  • Cell clearance
  • Development
  • GTPase
  • Sertoli cell
  • Spermatogenesis


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