Author(s): Sandra J van Vliet, Juan J GarcaVallejo, Yvette van Kooyk
Dendritic cells (DCs) have an important function in the initiation and differentiation of immune responses, linking innate information to tailored adaptive responses. Depending on the pathogen invading the body, specific immune responses are built up that are crucial for eliminating the pathogen from the host. Host recognition of invading microorganisms relies on evolutionarily ancient, germline-encoded pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) that are highly expressed on the cell surface of DCs, of which the Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are well characterized and recognize bacterial or viral components. Moreover, they bind a variety of self-proteins released from damaged tissues including several heat-shock proteins. The membrane-associated C-type lectin receptors (CLRs) recognize glycan structures expressed by host cells of the immune system or on specific tissues, which upon recognition allow cellular interactions between DCs and other immune or tissue cells. In addition, CLRs can function as PRRs. In contrast to TLRs, CLRs recognize carbohydrate structures present on the pathogens. Modification of glycan structures on pathogens to mimic host glycans can thereby alter CLR interactions that subsequently modifies DC-induced polarization. In this review, we will discuss in detail how specific glycosylation of antigens can dictate both the innate and adaptive interactions that are mediated by CLRs on DCs and how this balances immune activation and inhibition of DC function.