The Journal of experimental medicine

Siglec-5 and Siglec-14 are polymorphic paired receptors that modulate neutrophil and amnion signaling responses to group B Streptococcus.

PMID 24799499


Group B Streptococcus (GBS) causes invasive infections in human newborns. We recently showed that the GBS β-protein attenuates innate immune responses by binding to sialic acid-binding immunoglobulin-like lectin 5 (Siglec-5), an inhibitory receptor on phagocytes. Interestingly, neutrophils and monocytes also express Siglec-14, which has a ligand-binding domain almost identical to Siglec-5 but signals via an activating motif, raising the possibility that these are paired Siglec receptors that balance immune responses to pathogens. Here we show that β-protein-expressing GBS binds to both Siglec-5 and Siglec-14 on neutrophils and that the latter engagement counteracts pathogen-induced host immune suppression by activating p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and AKT signaling pathways. Siglec-14 is absent from some humans because of a SIGLEC14-null polymorphism, and homozygous SIGLEC14-null neutrophils are more susceptible to GBS immune subversion. Finally, we report an unexpected human-specific expression of Siglec-5 and Siglec-14 on amniotic epithelium, the site of initial contact of invading GBS with the fetus. GBS amnion immune activation was likewise influenced by the SIGLEC14-null polymorphism. We provide initial evidence that the polymorphism could influence the risk of prematurity among human fetuses of mothers colonized with GBS. This first functionally proven example of a paired receptor system in the Siglec family has multiple implications for regulation of host immunity.