Pentraxins are a superfamily of conserved proteins that are characterized by a cyclic multimeric structure1. The classical short pentraxins, C-reactive protein (CRP) and serum amyloid P component (SAP), are acute-phase proteins produced in the liver in response to inflammatory mediators2-4. Short pentraxins regulate innate resistance to microbes and the scavenging of cellular debris and extracellular matrix components2-5. In contrast, long pentraxins have an unrelated, long amino-terminal domain coupled to the carboxy-terminal pentraxin domain, and differ, with respect to short pentraxins, in their gene organization, chromosomal localization, cellular source, and in their stimuli-inducing and ligand-recognition ability. To investigate the in vivo function of the long pentraxin PTX3, we generated mice deficient in Ptx3 by homologous recombination. Ptx3-null mice were susceptible to invasive pulmonary aspergillosis. Ptx3 binds selected microbial agents, including conidia of Aspergillus fumigatus, and we found that susceptibility of Ptx3-null mice was associated with defective recognition of conidia by alveolar macrophages and dendritic cells, as well as inappropriate induction of an adaptive type 2 response. Thus, the long pentraxin Ptx3 is a secreted pattern-recognition receptor that has a non-redundant role in resistance to selected microbial agents, in particular to the opportunistic fungal pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus.
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