DC-SIGN (Dendritic Cell-Specific Intercellular adhesion molecule-3-Grabbing Non-integrin) is a type II C-type lectin that functions as an adhesion molecule located on dendritic cells (DCs). It enables some of the functions of DCs, including migration, pathogen recognition, internalisation
and processing, and their binding to T cells. HIV-1 has been reported to enter DCs by being bound to DC-SIGN, escaping the normal lytic pathway in DCs' endosomes and avoiding the immune system defence system. A very similar mechanism of survival has been observed for some other pathogens.
This makes DC-SIGN a receptor of interest in the design of distinctive anti-infectives that would inhibit DC-SIGN-pathogen interaction by blocking the very first step in pathogen infection. In this review we outline the development of DC-SIGN antagonists, focusing mainly on a glycomimetic
approach. Based on the fact that DCSIGN binds mannose- and fucose-based oligo- and polysaccharides, their structural mimics have been designed and proved to inhibit pathogen-DC-SIGN interaction. Furthermore, recent in vitro studies have demonstrated that DC-SIGN antagonists block effectively
the transmission of pathogens like HIV-1 and Ebola to CD4+ T cells. Although DC-SIGN has not been validated in vivo as a druggable target yet, we await future DC-SIGN antagonists as a new and highly promising group of novel anti-infectives.
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