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Nature. 1995 May 11;375(6527):151-5.

The receptor DEC-205 expressed by dendritic cells and thymic epithelial cells is involved in antigen processing.

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Laboratory of Molecular Immunology, Rockefeller University, New York, New York 10021, USA.


Dendritic cells and thymic epithelial cells perform important immunoregulatory functions by presenting antigens in the form of peptides bound to cell-surface major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules to T cells. Whereas B cells are known to present specific antigens efficiently through their surface immunoglobins, a comparable mechanism for the capture and efficient presentation of diverse antigens by dendritic cells and thymic epithelial cells has not previously been described. We show here that their antigen-presentation function is associated with the high-level expression of DEC-205, an integral membrane protein homologous to the macrophage mannose receptor and related receptors which are able to bind carbohydrates and mediate endocytosis. DEC-205 is rapidly taken up by means of coated pits and vesicles, and is delivered to a multivesicular endosomal compartment that resembles the MHC class II-containing vesicles implicated in antigen presentation. Rabbit antibodies that bind DEC-205 are presented to reactive T-cell hybridomas 100-fold more efficiently than rabbit antibodies that do not bind DEC-205. Thus DEC-205 is a novel endocytic receptor that can be used by dendritic cells and thymic epithelial cells to direct captured antigens from the extracellular space to a specialized antigen-processing compartment.

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