Host and pathogen hyaluronan signal through human siglec-9 to suppress neutrophil activation

Secundino I, Lizcano A, Roupé KM, Wang X, Cole JN, Olson J, Ali SR, Dahesh S, Amayreh LK, Henningham A, Varki A, Nizet V. J Mol Med (Berl). 2016 Feb;94(2):219-33. doi: 10.1007/s00109-015-1341-8. PMID: 26411873

Inhibitory CD33-related Siglec receptors regulate immune cell activation upon engaging ubiquitous sialic acids (Sias) on host cell surface glycans. Through molecular mimicry, Sia-expressing pathogen group B Streptococcus binds inhibitory human Siglec-9 (hSiglec-9) to blunt neutrophil activation and promote bacterial survival. We unexpectedly discovered that hSiglec-9 also specifically binds high molecular weight hyaluronan (HMW-HA), another ubiquitous host glycan, through a region of its terminal Ig-like V-set domain distinct from the Sia-binding site. HMW-HA recognition by hSiglec-9 limited neutrophil extracellular trap (NET) formation, oxidative burst, and apoptosis, defining HMW-HA as a regulator of neutrophil activation. However, the pathogen group A Streptococcus (GAS) expresses a HMW-HA capsule that engages hSiglec-9, blocking NET formation and oxidative burst, thereby promoting bacterial survival. Thus, a single inhibitory lectin receptor detects two distinct glycan “self-associated molecular patterns” to maintain neutrophil homeostasis, and two leading human bacterial pathogens have independently evolved molecular mimicry to exploit this immunoregulatory mechanism.

HMW-HA is the first example of a non-sialic acid containing glycan to be recognized by CD33-related Siglecs. HMW-HA engagement of hSiglec-9 attenuates neutrophil activation. Group A Streptococcus exploits hSiglec-9 recognition via its polysaccharide HMW-HA capsule to subvert neutrophil killing.