Human (h)Dectin-1 is a member of the C-type-lectin-like receptor family that was shown to be the major receptor for fungal β-glucans and to play an important role in cellular responses mediated by these carbohydrates. It is mainly expressed on human DCs and macrophages. In our study, we observed that activation of monocyte-derived dendritic cells (MDCs) with TLR3 ligand (poly I:C) but not with TLR ligand 7/8 (R848) resulted in down-regulation of hDectin-1 expression and this down-regulation correlated with a reduced uptake of apoptotic cells in phagocytosis assays. In order to analyze the possible cross-presentation of engulfed antigens we used CMV infected human fibroblasts (HFF). We found that hDectin-1 is involved in the uptake of CMV-infected HFF leading to cross-presentation of CMV-derived peptides on MHC class I molecules and activation of CMV pp65-specific CD8+ T-lymphocytes. To further delineate the pathway leading to presentation, we pretreated MDCs with compounds that inhibit processing of antigens at defined steps during presentation. Cytosolic protein degradation is performed by the proteasome, a large multicatalytic protease complex. Lactacystin specifically inhibits the 20S and 26S proteasome activity by targeting the catalytic subunit. In standard 51Cr-release assays, addition of lactacystin completely inhibited the presentation of pp65-derived peptides indicating the involvement of the proteasome in these process. The fungal product brefeldin A blocks the MHC class I processing pathway by specifically inhibiting the vesicular egress from the ER and the Golgi complex. In line with previous findings, incubation with brefeldin A almost completely abolished the lysis of MDCs incubated with CMV+ HFF. To further analyze whether the cross-presentation of CMV-derived peptides on HLA class I molecules was dependent on lysosomal proteases, MDCs that were co-incubated with HFF as above were treated with the lysosomotropic agent chloroquine that prevents acidification of the lysosomal compartment involved in the exogenous pathway of antigen presentation. The addition of chloroquine had no effect on the cross-presentation of CMV-derived epitopes on HLA class I-molecules. Summarized, the data reported here show that hDectin-1 functions not only as a pattern recognition receptor in innate immunity but is also involved in the clearing of apoptotic cells and cross-presentation of cellular antigens on MHC class I molecules to specific CTLs.

Author notes

Disclosure: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.