The last step of cell death is cell clearance, a process critical for tissue homeostasis. For efficient cell clearance to occur, phagocytes and dead cells need to reciprocally signal to each other. One important phenomenon that is under-investigated, however, is that phagocytes not only engulf corpses but contribute to cell death progression. The aims of this study were to determine how the phagocytic receptor Draper non-autonomously induces cell death, using the Drosophila ovary as a model system. We found that Draper, expressed in epithelial follicle cells, requires its intracellular signaling domain to kill the adjacent nurse cell population. Kinases Src42A, Shark and JNK (Bsk) were required for Draper-induced nurse cell death. Signs of nurse cell death occurred prior to apparent engulfment and required the caspase Dcp-1, indicating that it uses a similar apoptotic pathway to starvation-induced cell death. These findings indicate that active signaling by Draper is required to kill nurse cells via the caspase Dcp-1, providing novel insights into mechanisms of phagoptosis driven by non-professional phagocytes.

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