Dendritic cells (DC) are highly specialized antigen presenting cells that link the innate and adaptive immunity. DC are heterogeneous and may be subdivided into multiple subsets.
This heterogeneity may be coupled to functional diversity but the role of each subset remains controversial: although some DC functions appear to be subset-specific, e.g. IFN alpha secretion by plasmacytoid DC or cross-presentation by mouse CD8alpha+ DC, several stimuli can overcome subset-specific restrictions indicating that DC subsets possess significant functional plasticity.
Nevertheless, the differential expression of many receptors by DC subsets may underlie a distinct pattern of pathogen recognition or of cellular interactions. In an attempt to explore this issue, the host laboratory has undertaken representational difference analysis of murine CD8alpha+ and CD8alpha- subsets.
This technique allowed them to identify a novel C-type lectin encoded in the NK complex that is selectively expressed in CD8alpha+ DC. The purpose of this project is the functional characterization of this unknown protein, provisionally termed 'CLECT-X'. We will confirm its restricted expression to CD8alpha+ DC, and will study its functional behaviour in vitro and in vivo.
By understanding the role of this differentially-expressed molecule, we hope to increase our understanding of DC subsets and create new tools to modulate DC in diseases such as cancer, autoimmunity, or infection.
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