Ligands for the cysteine-rich (CR) domain of the mannose receptor (MR) were detected by incubating murine tissues with a chimeric protein containing CR fused to the Fc region of human IgG1 (CR-Fc). In naive mice, CR-Fc bound to sialoadhesin+, F4/80low/-, macrosialin+ macrophages (M phi) in spleen marginal zone (metallophilic M phi) and lymph node subcapsular sinus. Labeling was also observed in B cell areas of splenic white pulp. Western blotting analysis of spleen and lymph nodes lysates revealed a restricted number of molecules that interacted specifically with CR-Fc. In immunized mice, labeling was upregulated on germinal centers in splenic white pulp and follicular areas of lymph nodes. Kinetic analysis of the pattern of CR-Fc labeling in lymph nodes during a secondary immune response to ovalbumin showed that CR ligand expression migrated towards B cell areas, associated with cells displaying distinctive dendritic morphology, and accumulated in developing germinal centers. These studies suggest that MR+ cells or MR-carbohydrate-containing antigen complexes could be directed towards areas where humoral immune responses take place, through the interaction of the MR CR domain with molecules expressed in specialized macrophage populations and antigen transporting cells.

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