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Recombinant C-type Lectin Receptors production and selective ligand identification : new tools towards immune system tailoring

Abstract : C-type Lectin Receptors (CLRs) are carbohydrate-binding proteins mainly expressed on Antigen Presenting Cells (APCs), including dendritic Cells (DCs), the sentinel of the innate immune system. They recognize pathogens or damaged cells by interacting with glycan features and the encounter between the CLR and its ligand constitutes a necessary step for the activation of the adaptive immune system. This crucial role played by CLRs in the balance of immune responses offers to CLR-glycan interactions pharmaceutical applications. The long-term objective of the research project in which this PhD is included is to use these CLRs as modulators in order to tailor the immune system responses. To do so, neoglyco-conjugates selective to each individual CLR have to be developed.Nine different CLRs were produced in this work: BDCA2, DC-SIGN, DC-SIGNR, dectin-1, dectin-2, langerin, LSECtin, MCL and Mincle.Several approaches have been explored in parallel for CLR production, ranking from bacterial periplasmic targeting, aiming to express soluble and functional protein, to inclusion bodies production into the bacterial cytoplasm, with subsequent protein refolding. Our collection of CLRs were used to screen glycan and glycomimetic arrays, highlighting context-dependent binding and identifying natural ligands or glycomimetics selective to each CLRs. Thus, several CLRs were surprisingly able to differentiate between positional isomers of a given N-Glycan, which opens new questions regarding the biological significance. Moreover, glycomimetics with a selectivity towards dectin-2 over DC-SIGN, DC-SIGNR and langerin CLRs have been identified.To guide the choice of the glycomimetics and estimate their optimisation, diverse biophysical studies were performed to evaluate the strength and specificity of the interaction. This enabled the development of an ultimate ligand selective towards DC-SIGN. A co-crystallised structure of the protein with this ligand revealed an interesting binding mode that also opens new questions.Simultaneously to monovalent ligand optimization, a first step towards the design of a highly defined molecule for cancer vaccination by CLR targeting was made. SPR results revealed potential candidates to exploit and preliminary biological assays were performed. Finally, a strategy for tetrameric lectin engineering as been explored, termed TETRALEC. This tool for screening and lectin characterization, has been obtained with one the lectin of the study, DC-SIGNR, by a site-specific labelling of the lectin. The TETRALEC complex was structurally characterised and functional assays were performed on glycan array and pathogen cells.
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Silvia Achilli. Recombinant C-type Lectin Receptors production and selective ligand identification : new tools towards immune system tailoring. Biomolecules [q-bio.BM]. Université Grenoble Alpes, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018GREAV014⟩. ⟨tel-01980791⟩

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