Human C-type lectin receptors (CLRs) characteristically bind glycosylated ligands in a Ca2+-dependent way via their carbohydrate recognition domain (CRD). Their carbohydrate preference is dependent on the amino acid sequence in the CRD domain and on the ability and flexibility of the CRD domain to accommodate sugar moieties that are located at different distances from each other in the glycoconjugate. Although microbial and vertebrate cells are able to produce similar polysaccharide chains, the density of carbohydrates on microbes is much higher compared to vertebrate cells. Despite this difference, carbohydrates present on both cell types can be recognized by the CLRs. These receptors are predominantly expressed by antigen presenting cells such as dendritic cells. In addition to the Toll-like receptor family, CLRs function as pattern recognition receptors by recognizing glycosylated patterns on pathogens. This usually results in internalization of the pathogen, lysosomal degradation and subsequent loading of pathogen-derived peptides into major histocompatibility complex molecules for antigen presentation. However, several pathogens have developed ways to exploit the CLRs to evade immune eradication by for example escaping from the lysosomal degradation pathway or by inducing anti-inflammatory cytokines. When CLRs bind endogenous glycosylated ligands they mediate several processes like cellcell adhesion and clearance of aberrant cells like tumor cells or apoptotic cells.
Keywords: C-type lectins, dendritic cells, glycoconjugates, glycosylation, pathogens, immunity, tolerance, adhesion
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