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Photoreceptor cells maintain a roughly constant length by continuously generating new outer segments from their base while simultaneously releasing mature outer segments engulfed by the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). Thus postmitotic RPE cells phagocytose an immense amount of material over a lifetime, disposing of photoreceptor cell waste while retaining useful content. This review focuses on current knowledge of outer segment phagocytosis, discussing the steps involved along with their critical participants as well as how various perturbations in outer segment (OS) disposal can lead to retinopathies.
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