The ability of the innate immune system to quickly recognize and respond to an invading pathogen is essential for controlling the infection. For this purpose, cells of the immune system express receptors which recognize evolutionarily conserved structures expressed by various pathogens but absent from host cells. In this review we focus on the nonclassical C-type lectin receptors including Dectin-1 whose role has been extensively characterized in the recognition and response to fungal pathogens. Dectin-1 is a type II transmembrane protein which binds β-1,3 and β-1,6 glucans. It is expressed on most cells of the innate immune system and has been implicated in phagocytosis as well as killing of fungi by macrophages, neutrophils and dendritic cells. The Dectin-1 cytoplasmic tail contains an immunoreceptor tyrosine based activation motif (ITAM) that signals in part through the spleen tyrosine kinase and in collaboration with Toll-like receptors. Although the main research focus has been on Dectin-1s role as a fungal and yeast pathogen recognition receptor, more recent studies suggest that Dectin-1 may have a broader function in pathogen recognition including a role in directing a macrophage response to mycobacterial infections.
Keywords: Pattern recognition receptors, Dectin-1, signaling, mycobacteria, fungi, glucans, C-type lectin