Innate immunity responds to various pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) to evaluate the biological nature of foreign materials by using limited numbers of receptors. Analyses of interactions between PAMPs and its receptors are essential to understand the molecular basis regarding how we discriminate self and non-self materials. Upon infection of horseshoe crabs, an arthropod species, rapid hemolymph coagulation is induced to engulf invading microorganisms by a cascade-type reaction. The reaction is very sensitive to lipopolysaccharide and (1→3)-β-D-glucans on Gramnegative bacteria and fungi, respectively, and hence is utilized as assay reagents that detect and quantitate these PAMPs with a name of “limulus test.” In this mini-review, recognition of (1→3)-β-D-glucans by a unique serine protease zymogen factor G of horseshoe crab is described. Molecular dissection and detailed kinetic analyses have revealed that multivalent binding to polymers of a simple target structure is one of the principles that allows stable and specific recognition of PAMPs by pattern recognition receptors in innate immunity.
Keywords: Innate Immunity, Pattern Recognition, Pathogen-Associated Molecular Pattern, (1”3)-β-D-Glucan, Horseshoe Crab, Hemolymph Coagulation, Limulus Test, Factor G
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