The Journal of biological chemistry

Common polymorphisms in human langerin change specificity for glycan ligands.

PMID 24217250


Langerin, a C-type lectin on Langerhans cells, mediates carbohydrate-dependent uptake of pathogens in the first step of antigen presentation to the adaptive immune system. Langerin binds a diverse range of carbohydrates including high mannose structures, fucosylated blood group antigens, and glycans with terminal 6-sulfated galactose. Mutagenesis and quantitative binding assays indicate that salt bridges between the sulfate group and two lysine residues compensate for the nonoptimal binding of galactose at the primary Ca(2+) site. A commonly occurring single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in human langerin results in change of one of these lysine residues, Lys-313, to isoleucine. Glycan array screening reveals that this amino acid change abolishes binding to oligosaccharides with terminal 6SO4-Gal and enhances binding to oligosaccharides with terminal GlcNAc residues. Structural analysis shows that enhanced binding to GlcNAc may result from Ile-313 packing against the N-acetyl group. The K313I polymorphism is tightly linked to another SNP that results in the change N288D, which reduces affinity for glycan ligands by destabilizing the Ca(2+)-binding site. Langerin with Asp-288 and Ile-313 shows no binding to 6SO4-Gal-terminated glycans and increased binding to GlcNAc-terminated structures, but overall decreased binding to glycans. Altered langerin function in individuals with the linked N288D and K313I polymorphisms may affect susceptibility to infection by microorganisms.