The human mannose-binding protein (MBP) is a multimeric serum protein that is divided into three domains: a cysteine-rich NH2-terminal domain that stabilizes the alpha-helix of the second collagen-like domain, and a third COOH-terminal carbohydrate binding region. The function of MBP is unknown, although a role in host defense is suggested by its ability to bind yeast mannans. In this report we show that native and recombinant human MBP can serve in an opsonic role in serum and thereby enhance clearance of mannose rich pathogens by phagocytes. MBP binds to wild-type virulent Salmonella montevideo that express a mannose-rich O-polysaccharide. Interaction of MBP with these organisms results in attachment, uptake, and killing of the opsonized bacteria by phagocytes. These results demonstrate that MBP plays a role in first line host defense against certain pathogenic organisms.

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