Author(s): Jack DL, Klein NJ, Turner MW
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Abstract Mannose-binding lectin (MBL) is an important constituent of the innate immune system. This protein binds through multiple lectin domains to the repeating sugar arrays that decorate many microbial surfaces, and is then able to activate the complement system through a specific protease called MBL-associated protease-2. We have used flow cytometry to study both the binding of MBL to microorganisms and the subsequent activation of complement. For selected Gram-negative organisms, such as Salmonella and Neisseria, we have examined the relative roles of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) structure and capsule in determining binding and conclude that the LPS is of major importance. Our results from studies with several clinically relevant organisms also show that MBL binding detected by flow cytometry leads to measurable activation of purified C4, suggesting that the bound lectin is capable of initiating opsonophagocytosis and/or bacterial lysis. There is an increasing literature suggesting that MBL deficiency, which mainly results from three relatively common single point mutations in exon 1 of the gene, predisposes both to infection by extracellular pathogens and to autoimmune disease. In addition, the protein also modulates disease severity, at least in part through a complex, dose-dependent influence on cytokine production. The mechanisms and signalling pathways involved in such processes remain to be elucidated.
This article was published in Immunol Rev
and referenced in Rheumatology: Current Research