Glycerol monomycolate is a novel ligand for the human, but not mouse macrophage inducible C-type lectin, mincle [Microbiology]

April 13th, 2014 by Hattori, Y., Morita, D., Fujiwara, N., Mori, D., Nakamura, T., Harashima, H., Yamasaki, S., Sugita, M.

An array of lipidic compounds that constitute the cell wall of mycobacteria is recognized by host receptors. Examples include trehalose dimycolate (TDM), which is a major surface-exposed glycolipid of mycobacteria, that interacts with the macrophage inducible C-type lectin, Mincle, and exerts its highly potent adjuvant functions. Recent evidence has suggested that glycerol monomycolate (GroMM), another mycolate-containing lipid species produced by mycobacteria, can stimulate innate immune cells; however, its specific host receptors have yet to be identified. We here demonstrated that cell transfectants expressing human Mincle (hMincle) reacted to both TDM and GroMM, while those expressing mouse Mincle (mMincle) only reacted to TDM and failed to recognize GroMM. Studies using domain swap chimeras confirmed that the ectodomain of hMincle, but not that of mMincle, interacted with GroMM, and site-directed mutagenesis analyses revealed that short stretches of amino acid residues at positions 174-176 and 195-196 were involved in GroMM recognition. To further substantiate the differential recognition of GroMM by hMincle and mMincle, hMincle transgenic/mMincle knockout mice (i.e. hMincle+ mice) were established and compared with non-transgenic mice (i.e. mMincle+ mice). We showed that macrophages derived from hMincle+ mice were activated by GroMM and produced inflammatory cytokines, whereas those derived from mMincle+ mice did not exhibit any reactivity to GroMM. Furthermore, local inflammatory responses were elicited in the GroMM-injected skin of hMincle+, but not mMincle+ mice. These results demonstrated that GroMM is a unique ligand for hMincle that is not recognized by mMincle.