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      Signalling through C-type lectin receptors: shaping immune responses

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          Key Points

          • Crosstalk between pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) expressed by dendritic cells orchestrates T helper (T H) cell differentiation through the induction of specific cytokine expression profiles, tailored to invading pathogens. C-type lectin receptors (CLRs) have an important role in orchestrating the induction of signalling pathways that regulate adaptive immune responses.

          • CLRs can control adaptive immunity at various levels by inducing signalling on their own, through crosstalk with other PRRs or by inducing carbohydrate-specific signalling pathways.

          • DC-specific ICAM3-grabbing non-integrin (DC-SIGN) interacts with mannose-carrying pathogens including Mycobacterium tuberculosis, HIV-1, measles virus and Candida albicans to activate the serine/threonine protein kinase RAF1. RAF1 signalling leads to the acetylation of Toll-like receptor (TLR)-activated nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) subunit p65 and affects cytokine expression, such as inducing the upregulation of interleukin-10 (IL-10).

          • DC-associated C-type lectin 1 (dectin 1) triggering by a broad range of fungal pathogens, such as C. albicans, Aspergillus fumigatus and Pneumocystis carinii, results in protective antifungal immunity through the crosstalk of two independent signalling pathways — one through spleen tyrosine kinase (SYK) and one through RAF1 — that are essential for the expression of T H1 and T H17 cell polarizing cytokines.

          • Crosstalk between the SYK and RAF1 pathways is both synergistic and antagonizing to fine-tune NF-κB activity: although Ser276 phosphorylation of p65 leads to enhanced transcriptional activity of p65 itself through acetylation, it also inhibits the transcriptional activity of the NF-κB subunit RELB by sequestering it in p65–RELB dimers, which are transcriptionally inactive.

          • The diversity in CLR-mediated signalling provides some major challenges for the researches to elucidate and manipulate the signalling properties of this exciting family of receptors. However, the recent advances strongly support the use of CLR targeting vaccination strategies using dendritic cells to induce or redirect adaptive immune responses as well as improve antigen delivery.


          Here, Teunis Geijtenbeek and Sonja Gringhuis discuss the role of the signalling pathways induced by C-type lectin receptors in determining T helper cell lineage commitment and describe how these pathways can be exploited for the development of new vaccination strategies.


          C-type lectin receptors (CLRs) expressed by dendritic cells are crucial for tailoring immune responses to pathogens. Following pathogen binding, CLRs trigger distinct signalling pathways that induce the expression of specific cytokines which determine T cell polarization fates. Some CLRs can induce signalling pathways that directly activate nuclear factor-κB, whereas other CLRs affect signalling by Toll-like receptors. Dissecting these signalling pathways and their effects on host immune cells is essential to understand the molecular mechanisms involved in the induction of adaptive immune responses. In this Review we describe the role of CLR signalling in regulating adaptive immunity and immunopathogenesis and discuss how this knowledge can be harnessed for the development of innovative vaccination approaches.

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          Most cited references 90

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          Taking dendritic cells into medicine.

          Dendritic cells (DCs) orchestrate a repertoire of immune responses that bring about resistance to infection and silencing or tolerance to self. In the settings of infection and cancer, microbes and tumours can exploit DCs to evade immunity, but DCs also can generate resistance, a capacity that is readily enhanced with DC-targeted vaccines. During allergy, autoimmunity and transplant rejection, DCs instigate unwanted responses that cause disease, but, again, DCs can be harnessed to silence these conditions with novel therapies. Here we present some medical implications of DC biology that account for illness and provide opportunities for prevention and therapy.
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            IL-23 and IL-17 in the establishment of protective pulmonary CD4+ T cell responses after vaccination and during Mycobacterium tuberculosis challenge.

            Interferon-gamma is key in limiting Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. Here we show that vaccination triggered an accelerated interferon-gamma response by CD4(+) T cells in the lung during subsequent M. tuberculosis infection. Interleukin 23 (IL-23) was essential for the accelerated response, for early cessation of bacterial growth and for establishment of an IL-17-producing CD4(+) T cell population in the lung. The recall response of the IL-17-producing CD4(+) T cell population occurred concurrently with expression of the chemokines CXCL9, CXCL10 and CXCL11. Depletion of IL-17 during challenge reduced the chemokine expression and accumulation of CD4(+) T cells producing interferon-gamma in the lung. We propose that vaccination induces IL-17-producing CD4(+) T cells that populate the lung and, after challenge, trigger the production of chemokines that recruit CD4(+) T cells producing interferon-gamma, which ultimately restrict bacterial growth.
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              Dendritic Cells Induce Peripheral T Cell Unresponsiveness under Steady State Conditions in Vivo

              Dendritic cells (DCs) have the capacity to initiate immune responses, but it has been postulated that they may also be involved in inducing peripheral tolerance. To examine the function of DCs in the steady state we devised an antigen delivery system targeting these specialized antigen presenting cells in vivo using a monoclonal antibody to a DC-restricted endocytic receptor, DEC-205. Our experiments show that this route of antigen delivery to DCs is several orders of magnitude more efficient than free peptide in complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA) in inducing T cell activation and cell division. However, T cells activated by antigen delivered to DCs are not polarized to produce T helper type 1 cytokine interferon γ and the activation response is not sustained. Within 7 d the number of antigen-specific T cells is severely reduced, and the residual T cells become unresponsive to systemic challenge with antigen in CFA. Coinjection of the DC-targeted antigen and anti-CD40 agonistic antibody changes the outcome from tolerance to prolonged T cell activation and immunity. We conclude that in the absence of additional stimuli DCs induce transient antigen-specific T cell activation followed by T cell deletion and unresponsiveness.

                Author and article information

                Nat Rev Immunol
                Nat. Rev. Immunol
                Nature Reviews. Immunology
                Nature Publishing Group UK (London )
                : 9
                : 7
                : 465-479
                Center for Experimental and Molecular Medicine and Center for Infection and Immunity Amsterdam, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Meibergdreet 9, AZ Amsterdam, 1105 The Netherlands
                © Nature Publishing Group 2009

                This article is made available via the PMC Open Access Subset for unrestricted research re-use and secondary analysis in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for the duration of the World Health Organization (WHO) declaration of COVID-19 as a global pandemic.

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                © Springer Nature Limited 2009


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