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Autoimmunity. 2006 Dec;39(8):691-704.

Carbohydrate recognition systems in autoimmunity.

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Department of Genetics, Cell- and Immunobiology, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary.


The immune system is a complex functional network of diverse cells and soluble molecules orchestrating innate and adaptive immunity. Biological information, to run these intricate interactions, is not only stored in protein sequences but also in the structure of the glycan part of the glycoconjugates. The spatially accessible carbohydrate structures that contribute to the cell's glycome are decoded by versatile recognition systems in order to maintain the immune homeostasis of an organism. Microbial carbohydrate structures are recognized by pathogen associated molecular pattern (PAMP) receptors of innate immunity including C-type lectins such as MBL, the tandem-repeat-type macrophage mannose receptor, DC-SIGN or dectin-1 of dendritic cells, certain TLRS or the TCR of NKT cells. Natural autoantibodies, a long known effector branch of this network-based operation, are effective to home in on non-self and self-glycosylation also. The recirculating pool of mammalian immune cells is recruited to inflammatory sites by a reaction pathway involving the self-carbohydrate-binding selectins as initial recognition step. Galectins, further key sensors reading the high-density sugar code, exert regulatory functions on activated T cells, among other activities. Autoimmune diseases are being associated with defined changes of glycosylation. This correlation deserves to be thoroughly studied on the levels of structural mimicry and dysregulation as well as effector molecules to devise innovative anti-inflammatory strategies. This review briefly summarizes data on sensor systems for carbohydrate epitopes and implications for autoimmunity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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