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Mycobacteria Target DC-SIGN to Suppress Dendritic Cell Function

Journal of Experimental Medicine
The Rockefeller University Press
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1084/jem.20021229
  • Article


Mycobacterium tuberculosis represents a world-wide health risk and immunosuppression is a particular problem in M. tuberculosis infections. Although macrophages are primarily infected, dendritic cells (DCs) are important in inducing cellular immune responses against M. tuberculosis. We hypothesized that DCs represent a target for M. tuberculosis and that the observed immuno-suppression results from modulation of DC functions. We demonstrate that the DC-specific C-type lectin DC-SIGN is an important receptor on DCs that captures and internalizes intact Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) through the mycobacterial cell wall component ManLAM. Antibodies against DC-SIGN block M. bovis BCG infection of DCs. ManLAM is also secreted by M. tuberculosis–infected macrophages and has been implicated as a virulence factor. Strikingly, ManLAM binding to DC-SIGN prevents mycobacteria- or LPS-induced DC maturation. Both mycobacteria and LPS induce DC maturation through Toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling, suggesting that DC-SIGN, upon binding of ManLAM, interferes with TLR-mediated signals. Blocking antibodies against DC-SIGN reverse the ManLAM-mediated immunosuppressive effects. Our results suggest that M. tuberculosis targets DC-SIGN both to infect DCs and to down-regulate DC-mediated immune responses. Moreover, we demonstrate that DC-SIGN has a broader pathogen recognition profile than previously shown, suggesting that DC-SIGN may represent a molecular target for clinical intervention in infections other than HIV-1.

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