Immunology

Dead But Not Dangerous

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Science  18 Apr 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6181, pp. 236
DOI: 10.1126/science.344.6181.236-b

How the innate immune system senses and responds to dead cells and how non-infectious inflammatory responses are controlled remain unclear. Neumann et al. identified an inhibitory C-type lectin receptor, Clec12a, as a specific immune receptor for dead cells. Both human and mouse Clec12a acted as direct sensors for uric acid crystals, which are key “danger” signals that alert the immune system to cell death. Dead cells or uric acid crystals triggered Clec12a signaling. Clec12a-deficient mice exhibited hyperinflammatory responses to uric acid crystals or sterile dead cell challenges in vivo. Thus, Clec12a represents a regulatory immune receptor that dampens the inflammatory immune response to dead cells. By doing so, it may help to minimize potential damage during non-infectious inflammation.

Immunity 40, 389 (2014).

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