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J Immunol. 2002 Mar 1;168(5):2118-26.

The dendritic cell-specific adhesion receptor DC-SIGN internalizes antigen for presentation to T cells.

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Department of Molecular Cell Biology, Vrye Universiteit Medical Center, van der Boechorststraat 7, 1081 BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Dendritic cells (DCs) capture Ags or viruses in peripheral tissue to transport them to lymphoid organs to induce cellular T cell responses. Recently, a DC-specific C-type lectin was identified, DC-specific ICAM-grabbing non-integrin (DC-SIGN), that functions as cell adhesion receptor mediating both DC migration and T cell activation. DC-SIGN also functions as an HIV-1R that captures HIVgp120 and facilitates DC-induced HIV transmission of T cells. Internalization motifs in the cytoplasmic tail of DC-SIGN hint to a function of DC-SIGN as endocytic receptor. In this study we demonstrate that on DCs DC-SIGN is rapidly internalized upon binding of soluble ligand. Mutating a putative internalization motif in the cytoplasmic tail reduces ligand-induced internalization. Detailed analysis using ratio fluorescence imaging and electron microscopy showed that DC-SIGN-ligand complexes are targeted to late endosomes/lysosomes. Moreover, ligands internalized by DC-SIGN are efficiently processed and presented to CD4+ T cells. The distinct pattern of expression of C-type lectins on DCs in situ and their nonoverlapping Ag recognition profile hint to selective functions of these receptors to allow a DC to recognize a wide variety of Ags and to process these to induce T cell activation. These data point to a novel function of the adhesion receptor DC-SIGN as an efficient DC-specific Ag receptor that can be used as a target to induce viral and antitumor immunity.

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