Pattern recognition receptor

Pattern recognition receptor

Pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) are a primitive part of the immune system. They are proteins expressed by cells of the innate immune system to identify pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs), which are associated with microbial pathogens or cellular stress, as well as damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs), which are associated with cell components released during cell damage. They are also called pathogen recognition receptors; and primitive pattern recognition receptors because they are an early part of the immune system to evolve, before adaptive immunity.


Molecules recognized

The microbe-specific molecules that are recognized by a given PRR are called pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) and include bacterial carbohydrates (such as lipopolysaccharide or LPS, mannose), nucleic acids (such as bacterial or viral DNA or RNA), bacterial peptides (flagellin, ax21), peptidoglycans and lipoteichoic acids (from Gram positive bacteria), N-formylmethionine, lipoproteins and fungal glucans.

Endogenous stress signals are called danger-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) and include uric acid.


PRRs are classified according to their ligand specificity, function, localization and/or evolutionary relationships. On the basis of function, PRRs may be divided into endocytic PRRs or signaling PRRs.

  • Signaling PRRs include the large families of membrane-bound Toll-like receptors and cytoplasmic NOD-like receptors.
  • Endocytic PRRs promote the attachment, engulfment and destruction of microorganisms by phagocytes, without relaying an intracellular signal. These PRRs recognize carbohydrates and include mannose receptors of macrophages, glucan receptors present on all phagocytes and scavenger receptors that recognize charged ligands, are found on all phagocytes and mediate removal of apoptotic cells.


Membrane-bound PRRs

Receptor kinases

PRRs were first discovered in plants.[1] Since that time many plant PRRs have been predicted by genomic analysis (370 in rice; 47 in Arabidopsis). Unlike animal PRRs, which associated with intracellular kinases via adaptor proteins (see non-RD kinases below), plant PRRs are composed of an extracellular domain, transmembrane domain, juxtamembrane domain and intracellular kinase domain as part of a single protein.

Toll-like receptors

Recognition of extracellular or endosomal pathogen-associated molecular patterns is mediated by transmembrane proteins known as toll-like receptors (TLRs).[2] Toll-like receptors were first discovered in Drosophila and trigger the synthesis and secretion of cytokines and activation of other host defense programs that are necessary for innate or adaptative immune responses. TLRs have been found in many species. In mammals, these receptors have been assigned numbers 1 to 11 (TLR1-TLR11). Interaction of TLRs with their specific PAMP induces NF-κB signaling and the MAP kinase pathway and therefore the secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines and co-stimulatory molecules. Molecules released following TLR activation signal to other cells of the immune system making TLRs key elements of innate immunity and adaptive immunity.[3]

The mannose receptor

The mannose receptor (MR) is a PRR primarily present on the surface of macrophages and dendritic cells. The MR belongs to the multilectin receptor protein group and, like the TLRs, provides a link between innate and adaptive immunity.[4] It recognizes and binds to repeated mannose units on the surfaces of infectious agents and its activation triggers endocytosis and phagocytosis of the microbe via the complement system. Specifically, mannose binding triggers recruitment of MBL-associated serine proteases (MASPs). The serine proteases activate themselves in a cascade, amplifying the immune response: MBL interacts with C4, binding the C4b subunit and releasing C4a into the bloodstream; similarly, binding of C2 causes release of C2a. Together, MBL, C4b and C2b are known as the C3 convertase. C3 is cleaved into its a and b subunits, and C3b binds the convertase. These together are called the C5 convertase. Similarly again, C5b is bound and C5a is released. C5b recruits C6, C7, C8 and multiple C9s. C5, C6, C7, C8 and C9 form the membrane attack complex (MAC).

Cytoplasmic PRRs

NOD-like receptors

For more details, see NOD-like receptor.

The NOD-like receptors (NLRs) are cytoplasmic proteins that regulate inflammatory and apoptotic responses. Approximately 20 of these proteins have been found in the mammalian genome and include two major subfamilies called NODs and NALPs, the MHC Class II transactivator (CIITA), IPAF, BIRC1, and other molecules.[5] This family of proteins is greatly expanded in plants, and constitutes a core component of plant immune systems.[6] Some of these proteins recognize endogenous or microbial molecules or stress responses and form oligomers that, in animals, activate inflammatory caspases (e.g. caspase 1) causing cleavage and activation of important inflammatory cytokines such as IL-1, and/or activate the NF-κB signaling pathway to induce production of inflammatory molecules. The NLR family is known under several different names, including the CATERPILLER (or CLR) or NOD-LRR family.[5][7]

The ligands are currently known for NOD1 and NOD2. NOD1 recognizes a molecule called meso-DAP, which is a peptidoglycan constituent only of Gram negative bacteria. NOD2 proteins recognize intracellular MDP (muramyl dipeptide), which is a peptidoglycan constituent of both Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria. NODs transduce signals in the pathway of NF-κB and MAP kinases via the serine-threonine kinase called RIP2. NOD proteins are so named because they contain a nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain which binds nucleoside triphosphate. NODs signal via N-terminal CARD domains to activate downstream gene induction events, and interact with microbial molecules by means of a C-terminal leucine-rich repeat (LRR) region.[8]
Like NODs, these proteins contain C-terminal LRRs, which appear to act as a regulatory domain and may be involved in the recognition of microbial pathogens. Also like NODs, these proteins also contain a nucleotide binding site (NBS) for nucleoside triphosphates. Interaction with other proteins (e.g. the adaptor molecule ASC) is mediated via N-terminal pyrin (PYD) domain. There are 14 members of this subfamily in humans (called NALP1 to NALP14). Mutations in NALP3 are responsible for the autoinflammatory diseases familial cold autoinflammatory syndrome, Muckle-Wells syndrome and neonatal onset multisystem inflammatory disease. Activators of NALP3 include muramyl dipeptide, bacterial DNA, ATP, toxins, double stranded RNA, paramyxoviruses and uric acid crystals. Although these specific molecules have been shown to activate NALP3, it remains unclear whether this is due to direct binding or due to cellular stress induced by these agents.
Other NLRs
Other NLRs such as IPAF and NAIP5/Birc1e have also been shown to activate caspase-1 in response to Salmonella and Legionella.

RIG-like receptors

RNA Helicases

Intracellular recognition of viral double-stranded (ds) and single stranded RNA has been shown to be mediated by a group of RNA Helicases which in turn recruit factors via twin N-terminal CARD domains to activate antiviral gene programs. Three such helicases have been described in mammals—RIG-I and MDA5 (recognizing 5'triphosphate-RNA and dsRNA, respectively), which activate antiviral signaling , and LGP2, which appears to act as a dominant-negative inhibitor.

Plant PRRs

Plants contain a significant number of PRRs that share remarkable structural and functional similarity with drosophila TOLL and mammalian TLRs. The first PRR identified in plants or animals was the XA21 protein, conferring resistance to the Gram-negative bacterial pathogen Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae.[1] Since that time two other plants PRRs, Arabidopsis FLS2 (flagellin) and EFR (elongation factor Tu receptor)have been isolated.[9] The corresponding PAMPs for XA21, FLS2 and EFR have all been identified.[9][10] Upon ligand recognition, the plant PRRs transduce "PAMP-triggered immunity" (PTI).[11] Plant immune systems also encode resistance proteins that resemble NOD-like receptors (see above), that feature NBS and LRR domains and can also carry other conserved interaction domains such as the TIR cytoplasmic domain found in Toll and Interleukin Receptors.[12] The NBS-LRR proteins are required for effector triggered immunity (ETI).

NonRD kinases

PRRs commonly associate with or contain members of a monophyletic group of kinases called the interleukin-1 receptor-associated kinase (IRAK) family that include Drosophila Pelle, human IRAKs, rice XA21 and Arabidopsis FLS2. In mammals, PRRs can also associate with members of the receptor-interacting protein (RIP) kinase family, distant relatives to the IRAK family. Some IRAK and RIP family kinases fall into a small functional class of kinases termed non-RD, many of which do not autophosphorylate the activation loop. A survey of the yeast, fly, worm, human, Arabidopsis, and rice kinomes (3,723 kinases) revealed that despite the small number of non-RD kinases in these genomes (9%–29%), 12 of 15 kinases known or predicted to function in PRR signaling fall into the non-RD class.[13] In plants, all PRRs characterized to date belong to the non-RD class. These data indicate that kinases associated with PRRs can largely be predicted by the lack of a single conserved residue and reveal new potential plant PRR subfamilies.

Secreted PRRs

A number of PRRs do not remain associated with the cell that produces them. Complement receptors, collectins, pentraxin proteins such as serum amyloid and C-reactive protein, lipid transferases, peptidoglycan recognition proteins (PGRs) and the LRR, XA21D[14] are all secreted proteins. One very important collectin is mannan-binding lectin (MBL), a major PRR of the innate immune system that binds to a wide range of bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa. MBL predominantly recognizes certain sugar groups on the surface of microorganisms but also binds phospholipids, nucleic acids and non-glycosylated proteins.[15]


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  5. ^ a b Ting JP, Williams KL (April 2005). "The CATERPILLER family: an ancient family of immune/apoptotic proteins". Clin. Immunol. 115 (1): 33–37. doi:10.1016/j.clim.2005.02.007. PMID 15870018. 
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  9. ^ a b Boller T, Felix G (2009). "A renaissance of elicitors: perception of microbe-associated molecular patterns and danger signals by pattern-recognition receptors". Annu Rev Plant Biol 60: 379–406. doi:10.1146/annurev.arplant.57.032905.105346. PMID 19400727. 
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