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dextran, endocytosis, macrophage, SIGN-R1, spleen


The marginal zone macrophages of the spleen are implicated in the clearance of polysaccharides, but underlying mechanisms need to be pinpointed. SIGN-R1 is one of five recently identified mouse genes that are homologous to human DC-SIGN and encode a single, external, C-terminal C-type lectin domain. We find that a polyclonal antibody to a specific SIGN-R1 peptide reacts primarily and strongly with a subset of macrophages in the marginal zone of spleen and lymph node medulla. In both sites, SIGN-R1 exists primarily in an aggregated form, resistant to dissociation into monomers upon boiling in SDS under reducing conditions. Upon transfection into three different cell lines, high-mol.-wt forms bearing SIGN-R1 are expressed, as well as reactivity with ER-TR9, a mAb previously described to react selectively with marginal zone macrophages. SIGN-R1-expressing macrophages preferentially sequester dextrans following i.v. injection. Likewise, when phagocytic cells are enriched from spleen and tested in culture, dextran is selectively endocytosed by a subset of very large SIGN-R1+ cells representing ∼5% of total released macrophages. Uptake of FITC-dextran by these macrophages in vivo and in vitro is blocked by ER-TR9 and polyclonal anti-SIGN-R1 antibodies. Following transfection with SIGN-R1, cell lines become competent to endocytose dextrans. The dextran localizes primarily to compartments lacking transferrin receptor and the LAMP-1 CD107a panlysosomal antigen. Therefore, SIGN-R1 mediates the uptake of dextran polysaccharides, and it is predominantly expressed in the macrophages of the splenic marginal zone and lymph node medulla.


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