Mannose-binding lectin deficiency--revisited

Mol Immunol. 2003 Sep;40(2-4):73-84. doi: 10.1016/s0161-5890(03)00104-4.


There is an emerging interest for mannose-binding lectin (MBL) due to its role in innate immunity. In this survey we present a mixture of old and new data describing the effect MBL polymorphisms may have on the level and function of the molecule. Three single nucleotide substitutions in exon 1 of the mbl2 gene cause a dominant decrease of functional MBL in the circulation. Additionally, promoter variants influence expression of MBL. It has been assumed that the structural variant alleles may disrupt the assembly of MBL trimers or accelerate the degradation of the protein, thereby causing the decrease in MBL serum concentrations. We have analysed 1183 different sera in a double sandwich antibody ELISA using the same antibody to capture and detect MBL and find the same results as have been presented previously showing that different MBL promoter alleles have profound effect of on the MBL serum concentration. The use of a new anti-MBL monoclonal antibody, however, has shown that the amount of MBL in the circulation is less dependent on the presence of structural variant alleles than previously anticipated. Molecular characterisation of MBL revealed that sera from donors homozygous for the normal MBL genotype predominantly contained high molecular weight MBL, while sera from individuals heterozygous for the variant alleles contained both high and low molecular weight MBL. The ratio between high and low molecular weight MBL was dependent on the MBL promoter type on the normal haplotype. Sera deriving from individuals homozygous for MBL variant alleles contained mainly low molecular weight MBL. Of the different oligomers of MBL only the high molecular weight forms bound mannan efficiently and activated complement. In contrast to a previous notion, we demonstrate that variant alleles give rise to relatively high levels of MBL in the circulation. However, the variant MBL has lower molecular weight and is dysfunctional compared to normal MBL. The physiological relevance of variant MBL remains to be established.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Blotting, Western
  • Humans
  • Mannose-Binding Lectins / chemistry
  • Mannose-Binding Lectins / deficiency*
  • Mannose-Binding Lectins / genetics*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic


  • Mannose-Binding Lectins