I. THE INNATE IMMUNE SYSTEM
E. THE COMPLEMENT SYSTEM
2. The Lectin Pathway
The overall purpose of this Learning Object is:
1) to learn how the lectin pathway is activated; and
2) to learn how products of the lectin pathway function in innate immune defenses.
LEARNING OBJECTIVES FOR THIS SECTION
Innate immunity refers to antigen-nonspecific defense mechanisms that a host uses immediately or within several hours after exposure to an antigen (def). This is the immunity one is born with and is the initial response by the body to eliminate microbes and prevent infection.
Unlike adaptive immunity, innate immunity does not recognize every possible antigen. Instead, it is designed to recognize molecules shared by groups of related microbes that are essential for the survival of those organisms and are not found associated with mammalian cells. These unique microbial molecules are called pathogen-associated molecular patterns or PAMPS and include LPS from the gram-negative cell wall, peptidoglycan and lipotechoic acids from the gram-positive cell wall, the sugar mannose (a terminal sugar common in microbial glycolipids and glycoproteins but rare in those of humans), bacterial and viral unmethylated CpG DNA, bacterial flagellin, the amino acid N-formylmethionine found in bacterial proteins, double-stranded and single-stranded RNA from viruses, and glucans from fungal cell walls. In addition, unique molecules displayed on stressed, injured, infected, or transformed human cells also act as PAMPS. (Because all microbes, not just pathogenic microbes, possess PAMPs, pathogen-associated molecular patterns are sometimes referred to as microbe-associated molecular patterns or MAMPs.)
Most body defense cells have pattern-recognition receptors for these common PAMPSand so there is an immediate response against the invading microorganism. Pathogen-associated molecular patterns can also be recognized by a series of soluble pattern-recognition receptors in the blood that function as opsonins and initiate the complement pathways. In all, the innate immune system is thought to recognize approximately 103 of these microbial molecular patterns.
The innate immune responses do not improve with repeated exposure to a given infection and involve the following:
Examples of innate immunity include anatomical barriers, mechanical removal, bacterial antagonism, pattern-recognition receptors, antigen-nonspecific defense chemicals, the complement pathways, phagocytosis, inflammation, and fever.
We will now take a closer look at the 3 pathways of the complement system.
The complement system refers to a series of proteins circulating in the blood and bathing the fluids surrounding tissues. The proteins circulate in an inactive form, but in response to the recognition of molecular components of microorganism, they become sequentially actived, working in a cascade where in the binding of one protein promotes the binding of the next protein in the cascade.
There are 3 complement pathways that make up the complement system: the classical complement pathway, the lectin pathway, and the alternative complement pathway. The pathways differ in the manner in which they are activated and ultimately produce a key enzyme called C3 convertase:
We will now take a closer look at the lectin pathway.
E. THE COMPLEMENT SYSTEM
2. The Lectin Pathway
The lectin pathway is mediated bycirculating proteins called mannan-binding lectin (MBL) - also known as mannan-binding protein or MBP. MBL is a soluble pattern-recognition receptor that binds to mannose-rich glycans - short carbohydrate chains with the sugar mannose or fructose as the terminal sugar. Mannose-rich glycans are common in microbial glycoproteins and glycolipids but rare in those of humans MBL is synthesized by the liver and released into the bloodstream as part of the acute phase response that will be discussed later in Unit 4. The MBP is equivalent to C1q in the classical complement pathway.
Activation of the lectin pathway begins when mannan-binding lectin (MBL) binds to the mannose groups of microbial carbohydrates. Two more lectin pathway proteins called MASP1 and MASP2 (equivalent to C1r and C1s of the classical pathway) now bind to the MBL (see Fig. 1). This forms an enzyme similar to C1 of the classical complement pathway that is able to cleave C4 and C2 to form C4bC2a, the C3 convertase capable of enzymatically splitting hundreds of molecules of C3 into C3a and C3b.
The beneficial results are the same as in the classical complement pathway above:
- trigger inflammation (def): C5a>C3a>c4a;
- chemotactically attract phagocytes to the infection site: C5a;
- promote the attachment of antigens (def) to phagocytes via enhanced attachment or opsonization (def): C3b>C4b;
- serves as a second signal for the activation of naive B-lymphocytes (def)): C3d;
- cause lysis of gram-negative bacteria and human cells displaying foreign epitopes (def): MAC; and
- remove harmful immune complexes from the body: C3b>C4b.
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Updated: April, 2010
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