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MedGenMed. 2003 May 23;5(2):2.

DC-SIGN points the way to a novel mechanism for HIV-1 transmission.

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  • 1Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, School of Computational Sciences, George Mason University, Manassas, Virginia, USA.


Dendritic cell (DC)-specific intercellular adhesion molecule 3 (ICAM-3) grabbing nonintegrin (DC-SIGN), a recently discovered type II transmembrane protein on DCs with a C-type lectin extracellular domain, is capable of binding ICAM-3 on resting T cells in the secondary lymphoid organs, providing the initial contact between these cells during the establishment of cell-mediated immunity. DC-SIGN also binds the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein gp120 but does not function as a receptor for viral entry into DCs. Instead, DC-SIGN allows DCs in the peripheral mucosa to carry HIV-1 through the lymphatics in a "Trojan horse" fashion, where it is eventually delivered to the T cells. Also, the period of infectivity of HIV-1 is increased by several days as a result of DC-SIGN-gp120 binding, allowing for efficient trans-infection of T cells on DC arrival. The discovery of a cluster of related genes colocalized with DC-SIGN on chromosome 19p13.2-3, all displaying complex alternative splicing patterns, has led to a reexamination of the mechanisms underlying both the interactions between antigen-presenting cells (APCs) and T cells and the pathogenesis of HIV-1 infection.

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