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Investigating Evolutionary Conservation of Dendritic Cell Subset Identity and Functions

Abstract : Dendritic cells (DCs) were initially defined as mononuclear phagocytes with a dendritic morphology and an exquisite efficiency for naïve T-cell activation. DC encompass several subsets initially identified by their expression of specific cell surface molecules and later shown to excel in distinct functions and to develop under the instruction of different transcription factors or cytokines. Very few cell surface molecules are expressed in a specific manner on any immune cell type. Hence, to identify cell types, the sole use of a small number of cell surface markers in classical flow cytometry can be deceiving. Moreover, the markers currently used to define mononuclear phagocyte subsets vary depending on the tissue and animal species studied and even between laboratories. This has led to confusion in the definition of DC subset identity and in their attribution of specific functions. There is a strong need to identify a rigorous and consensus way to define mononuclear phagocyte subsets, with precise guidelines potentially applicable throughout tissues and species. We will discuss the advantages, drawbacks, and com-plementarities of different methodologies: cell surface phenotyping, ontogeny, functional characterization, and molecular profiling. We will advocate that gene expression profiling is a very rigorous, largely unbiased and accessible method to define the identity of mononuclear phagocyte subsets, which strengthens and refines surface phenotyping. It is uniquely powerful to yield new, experimentally testable, hypotheses on the ontogeny or functions of mononuclear phagocyte subsets, their molecular regulation, and their evolutionary conservation. We propose defining cell populations based on a combination of cell surface phenotyping, expression analysis of hallmark genes, and robust functional assays, in order to reach a consensus and integrate faster the huge but scattered knowledge accumulated by different laboratories on different cell types, organs, and species.
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Thien-Phong Vu Manh, Nicolas Bertho, Anne Hosmalin, Isabelle Schwartz-Cornil, Marc Dalod. Investigating Evolutionary Conservation of Dendritic Cell Subset Identity and Functions. Frontiers in Immunology, Frontiers, 2015, 6 (260), pp.260. ⟨10.3389/fimmu.2015.00260⟩. ⟨inserm-01170364⟩

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