Collectins and ficolins: sugar pattern recognition molecules of the mammalian innate immune system

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2002 Sep 19;1572(2-3):387-400. doi: 10.1016/s0304-4165(02)00320-3.


Collectins and ficolins represent two important groups of pattern recognition molecules, which bind to oligosaccharide structures on the surface of microorganisms, leading to the killing of bound microbes through complement activation and phagocytosis. Collectins and ficolins bear no significant sequence homology except for the presence of collagen-like sequences over the N-terminal halves of the polypeptides that enable the assembly of these molecules into oligomeric structures. Collectins and ficolins both contain lectin activities within the C-terminal halves of their polypeptides, the C-type carbohydrate recognition domain (CRDs) and fibrinogen beta/gamma (homology) (FBG) domain, respectively. These domains form trimeric clusters at the ends of the collagen triple helices emanating from a central hub, where the N-terminal ends of the polypeptides merge. The collectins and ficolins seem to have evolved to recognize the surface sugar codes of microbes and their binding, to these arrays of cell surface carbohydrate molecules, targets the microbe for subsequent clearance by phagocytic cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Carrier Proteins / chemistry
  • Carrier Proteins / physiology*
  • Collectins
  • Complement Activation
  • Fungi / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / physiology*
  • Lectins
  • Molecular Structure
  • Oligosaccharides / immunology
  • Oligosaccharides / metabolism*
  • Opsonin Proteins
  • Phagocytosis
  • Viruses / metabolism


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Collectins
  • Lectins
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Opsonin Proteins
  • ficolin