Perturbations to the well-being of tissues in plants and invertebrates generate fragments of endogenous molecules that are recognized by innate immune receptors. Vertebrates have homologous receptors on specialized cells such as dendritic cells, but whether these receptors respond to fragments of endogenous molecules is not known. We tested the idea that Toll-like receptors on dendritic cells might recognize polysaccharide fragments of heparan sulfate proteoglycan. Dendritic cells were found to mature in response to heparan sulfate as measured by costimulatory protein expression, morphology, and T lymphocyte stimulation, but this maturation was absent when Toll-like receptor 4 was mutated or inhibited. These findings suggest that Toll-like receptors in vertebrates may monitor tissue well-being by recognizing fragments of endogenous macromolecules.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy