Glycosylation is an integral post-translational modification present in more than half of all eukaryotic proteins. It affects key protein functions, including folding, stability, and immunogenicity. Glycoengineering approaches, such as the use of bacterial N-glycosylation systems, or expression systems, including yeasts, insect cells, and mammalian cells, have enabled access to defined and homogenous glycoproteins. Given that glycan structures on proteins can be recognized by host lectin receptors, they may facilitate cell-specific targeting and immune modulation. Myeloid C-type lectin receptors (CLRs) expressed by antigen-presenting cells are attractive targets to shape immune responses. Multivalent glycan display on nanoparticles, liposomes, or dendrimers has successfully enabled CLR targeting. In this review, we discuss novel strategies to access defined glycan structures and highlight CLR targeting approaches for immune modulation. Trends Biotechnol. 2017 Apr;35(4):334-346. doi: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2016.10.002. Epub 2016 Oct 27.
Sterile (noninfected) inflammation underlies the pathogenesis of many widespread diseases, such as allergies and autoimmune diseases. The evolutionarily conserved innate immune system is considered to play a key role in tissue injury recognition and the subsequent development of sterile inflammation; however, the underlying molecular mechanisms are not yet completely understood. Here, we show that cholesterol sulfate, a molecule present in relatively high concentrations in the epithelial layer of barrier tissues, is selectively recognized by Mincle (Clec4e), a C-type lectin receptor of the innate immune system that is strongly up-regulated in response to skin damage. Mincle activation by cholesterol sulfate causes the secretion of a range of proinflammatory mediators, and s.c. injection of cholesterol sulfate results in a Mincle-mediated induction of a severe local inflammatory response. In addition, our study reveals a role of Mincle as a driving component in the pathogenesis of allergic skin inflammation. In a well-established model of allergic contact dermatitis, the absence of Mincle leads to a significant suppression of the magnitude of the skin inflammatory response as assessed by changes in ear thickness, myeloid cell infiltration, and cytokine and chemokine secretion. Taken together, our results provide a deeper understanding of the fundamental mechanisms underlying sterile inflammation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Mar 28;114(13):E2758-E2765. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1611665114. Epub 2017 Mar 14.
Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality within immunocompromised patients. In this study, we examined the potential role of macrophage-inducible C-type lectin (Mincle) for host defense against Pneumocystis Binding assays implementing soluble Mincle carbohydrate recognition domain fusion proteins demonstrated binding to intact Pneumocystis carinii as well as to organism homogenates, and they purified major surface glycoprotein/glycoprotein A derived from the organism. Additional experiments showed that rats with PCP expressed increased Mincle mRNA levels. Mouse macrophages overexpressing Mincle displayed increased binding to P. carinii life forms and enhanced protein tyrosine phosphorylation. The binding of P. carinii to Mincle resulted in activation of FcRγ-mediated cell signaling. RNA silencing of Mincle in mouse macrophages resulted in decreased activation of Syk kinase after P. carinii challenge, critical in downstream inflammatory signaling. Mincle-deficient CD4-depleted (Mincle-/-) mice showed a significant defect in organism clearance from the lungs with higher organism burdens and altered lung cytokine responses during Pneumocystis murina pneumonia. Interestingly, Mincle-/- mice did not demonstrate worsened survival during PCP compared with wild-type mice, despite the markedly increased organism burdens. This may be related to increased expression of anti-inflammatory factors such as IL-1Ra during infection in the Mincle-/- mice. Of note, the P. murina-infected Mincle-/- mice demonstrated increased expression of known C-type lectin receptors Dectin-1, Dectin-2, and MCL compared with infected wild-type mice. Taken together, these data support a significant role for Mincle in Pneumocystis modulating host defense during infection. J Immunol. 2017 Mar 15. pii: 1600744. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1600744
C-type lectins (CTLs) represent the most complex family of animal/human lectins that comprises 17 different groups. During evolution, CTLs have developed by diversification to cover a broad range of glycan ligands. However, ligand binding by CTLs is not necessarily restricted to glycans as some CTLs also bind to proteins, lipids, inorganic molecules, or ice crystals. CTLs share a common fold that harbors a Ca2+ for contact to the sugar and about 18 invariant residues in a phylogenetically conserved pattern. In vertebrates, CTLs have numerous functions, including serum glycoprotein homeostasis, pathogen sensing, and the initiation of immune responses. Myeloid CTLs in innate immunity are mainly expressed by antigen-presenting cells and play a prominent role in the recognition of a variety of pathogens such as fungi, bacteria, viruses, and parasites. However, myeloid CTLs such as the macrophage inducible CTL (Mincle) or Clec-9a may also bind to self-antigens and thus contribute to immune homeostasis. While some CTLs induce pro-inflammatory responses and thereby lead to activation of adaptive immune responses, other CTLs act as inhibitory receptors and dampen cellular functions. Since CTLs are key players in pathogen recognition and innate immunity, targeting CTLs may be a promising strategy for cell-specific delivery of drugs or vaccine antigens and to modulate immune responses. Histochem. Cell Biol. 2017, 147(2), 223-37
Emphysema is a typical component of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a progressive and inflammatory airway disease. However, no effective treatment currently exists. Here, we show that keratan sulfate (KS), one of the major glycosaminoglycans produced in the small airway, decreased in lungs of cigarette smoke-exposed mice. To confirm the protective effect of KS in the small airway, a disaccharide repeating unit of KS designated L4 ([SO 3 –6]Galβ1-4[SO 3 –6]GlcNAc) was administered to two murine models: elastase-induced-emphysema and LPS-induced exacerbation of a cigarette smoke-induced emphysema. Histological and microcomputed tomography analyses revealed that, in the mouse elastase-induced emphysema model, administration of L4 attenuated alveolar destruction. Treatment with L4 significantly reduced neutrophil influx, as well as the levels of inflammatory cytokines, tissue-degrading enzymes (matrix metalloproteinases), and myeloperoxidase in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, suggesting that L4 suppressed inflammation in the lung. L4 consistently blocked the chemotactic migration of neutrophils in vitro. Moreover, in the case of the exacerbation model, L4 inhibited inflammatory cell accumulation to the same extent as that of dexamethasone. Taken together, L4 represents one of the potential glycan-based drugs for the treatment of COPD through its inhibitory action against inflammation. American Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology Published 8 February 2017 Vol. 312 no. 2, L268-L276 DOI: 10.1152/ajplung.00151.2016