The physiological role of DC-SIGN: a tale of mice and men

Trends Immunol. 2013 Oct;34(10):482-6. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2013 Apr 20.


The innate immune receptor DC-SIGN (dendritic cell-specific intercellular adhesion molecule-3 grabbing non-integrin) was discovered over a decade ago and was initially identified as a pattern recognition receptor. In addition to its ability to recognize a broad range of pathogen-derived ligands and self-glycoproteins, DC-SIGN also mediates intercellular adhesion, as well as antigen uptake and signaling, which is a functional hallmark of dendritic cells (DCs). Most research on DC-SIGN has relied on in vitro studies. The in vivo function of DC-SIGN is difficult to address, in part because there are eight genetic homologs in mice with no clear DC-SIGN ortholog. Here, we summarize the functions attributed to DC-SIGN based on in vitro data and discuss the limitations of available mouse models to uncover the physiological role of this receptor in vivo.

Keywords: DC-SIGN; animal models; antigen presentation; pattern recognition receptors.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen Presentation / immunology*
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / immunology
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / immunology*
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Humans
  • Lectins, C-Type / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / immunology*


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