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Chem Biol. 2007 Nov;14(11):1232-42.

CD1c presentation of synthetic glycolipid antigens with foreign alkyl branching motifs.

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Division of Rheumatology, Immunology and Allergy, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Smith Building Room 538, One Jimmy Fund Way, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Human CD1c is a protein that activates alphabeta T cells by presenting self antigens, synthetic mannosyl phosphodolichols, and mycobacterial mannosyl phosphopolyketides. To determine which molecular features of antigen structure confer a T cell response, we measured activation by structurally divergent Mycobacterium tuberculosis mannosyl-beta1-phosphomycoketides and synthetic analogs with either stereorandom or stereospecific methyl branching patterns. T cell responses required both a phosphate and a beta-linked mannose unit, and they showed preference for C(30-34) lipid units with methyl branches in the S-configuration. Thus, T cell responses were strongest for synthetic compounds that mimicked the natural branched lipids produced by mycobacterial polyketide synthase 12. Incorporation of methylmalonate to form branched lipids is a common bacterial lipid-synthesis pathway that is absent in vertebrates. Therefore, the preferential recognition of branched lipids may represent a new lipid-based pathogen-associated molecular pattern.

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