Research ArticleHost-Pathogen Interactions

Carbohydrate-dependent B cell activation by fucose-binding bacterial lectins

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Science Signaling  05 Mar 2019:
Vol. 12, Issue 571, eaao7194
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aao7194

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Sweet B cell activation

Burkholderia and Pseudomonas species of proteobacteria secrete carbohydrate-binding proteins called lectins, enabling adhesion to host tissues and biofilm formation, which can lead to opportunistic infections. Wilhelm et al. showed that fucose-binding bacterial lectins bound to and activated mouse B cells in vitro, which depended on the B cell antigen receptor and the kinase Syk. In vivo, these lectins induced a strong but transient immune response characterized by increased numbers of B cells and myeloid cells in the spleen. These data suggest that bacterial lectins may act like antigens to hijack B cell signaling and stimulate rapid immune responses, which may pose a risk to immunocompromised individuals.