Divergent roles for C-type lectins expressed by cells of the innate immune system

Mol Immunol. 2004 Nov;41(11):1109-21. doi: 10.1016/j.molimm.2004.06.013.


In recent years there has been increasing interest in the diversity and function of carbohydrates present on a range of endogenous mammalian glycoproteins and pathogen surfaces. It is clear that carbohydrate structures are not merely structural components of the molecules which bear them but are, in many instances, a source of information to be decoded by biological systems including the immune system. Macrophages and other antigen presenting cells express a variety of pattern recognition molecules which allow discrimination between self and non-self ligands and are well known for their ability to recognise and internalise foreign antigens. The role of carbohydrates as molecular determinants of self/non-self has been recognised for many years and a family of proteins known as the C-type lectins are implicated as the main players in carbohydrate recognition within the immune system. More recently, C-type lectin receptors which bind ligands other than carbohydrates have been identified, and there are additional receptors which bind both carbohydrate and non-carbohydrate ligands. In this review article we seek to shed light on the varied roles of this family of receptors, particularly those receptors expressed by antigen presenting cells and those with known ligands. We also review more recent data on several members of this family.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / immunology
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / physiology
  • Immune System / immunology
  • Immune System / physiology*
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology
  • Immunity, Innate / physiology*
  • Lectins, C-Type / immunology
  • Lectins, C-Type / physiology*
  • Mannose Receptor
  • Mannose-Binding Lectins / immunology
  • Mannose-Binding Lectins / physiology
  • Mice
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / immunology
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / physiology


  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • DC-specific ICAM-3 grabbing nonintegrin
  • Lectins, C-Type
  • Mannose Receptor
  • Mannose-Binding Lectins
  • Receptors, Cell Surface