C-Type Lectin Receptors in Host Defense Against Bacterial Pathogens

Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2020 Jul 7;10:309. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2020.00309. eCollection 2020.


Antigen-presenting cells (APCs) are present throughout the human body-in tissues, at barrier sites and in the circulation. They are critical for processing external signals to instruct both local and systemic responses toward immune tolerance or immune defense. APCs express an extensive repertoire of pattern-recognition receptors (PRRs) to detect and transduce these signals. C-type lectin receptors (CLRs) comprise a subfamily of PRRs dedicated to sensing glycans, including those expressed by commensal and pathogenic bacteria. This review summarizes recent findings on the recognition of and responses to bacteria by membrane-expressed CLRs on different APC subsets, which are discussed according to the primary site of infection. Many CLR-bacterial interactions promote bacterial clearance, whereas other interactions are exploited by bacteria to enhance their pathogenic potential. The discrimination between protective and virulence-enhancing interactions is essential to understand which interactions to target with new prophylactic or treatment strategies. CLRs are also densely concentrated at APC dendrites that sample the environment across intact barrier sites. This suggests an-as yet-underappreciated role for CLR-mediated recognition of microbiota-produced glycans in maintaining tolerance at barrier sites. In addition to providing a concise overview of identified CLR-bacteria interactions, we discuss the main challenges and potential solutions for the identification of new CLR-bacterial interactions, including those with commensal bacteria, and for in-depth structure-function studies on CLR-bacterial glycan interactions. Finally, we highlight the necessity for more relevant tissue-specific in vitro, in vivo and ex vivo models to develop therapeutic applications in this area.

Keywords: C-type lectin; antigen-presenting cells; bacteria; glycan; host-pathogen interaction; immunity; pattern-recognition receptor.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / immunology*
  • Bacteria
  • Bacterial Infections / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Lectins, C-Type*
  • Polysaccharides*


  • Lectins, C-Type
  • Polysaccharides