Proteins are frequently modified by complex carbohydrates (glycans) that play central roles in maintaining the structural and functional integrity of cells and tissues in humans and lower organisms. Mannose forms an essential building block of protein glycosylation, and its functional involvement as components of larger and diverse α-mannosidic glycoepitopes in important intra- and intercellular glycoimmunological processes is gaining recognition. With a focus on the mannose-rich asparagine (N-linked) glycosylation type, this review summarises the increasing volume of literature covering human and non-human protein mannosylation, including their structures, biosynthesis and spatiotemporal expression. The review also covers their known interactions with specialised host and microbial mannose-recognising C-type lectin receptors (mrCLRs) and antibodies (mrAbs) during inflammation and pathogen infection. Advances in molecular mapping technologies have recently revealed novel immuno-centric mannose-terminating truncated N-glycans, termed paucimannosylation, on human proteins. The cellular presentation of α-mannosidic glycoepitopes on N-glycoproteins appears tightly regulated; α-mannose determinants are relative rare glycoepitopes in physiological extracellular environments, but may be actively secreted or leaked from cells to transmit potent signals when required. Simultaneously, our understanding of the molecular basis on the recognition of mannosidic epitopes by mrCLRs including DC-SIGN, mannose receptor, mannose binding lectin and mrAb is rapidly advancing, together with the functional implications of these interactions in facilitating an effective immune response during physiological and pathophysiological conditions. Ultimately, deciphering these complex mannose-based receptor–ligand interactions at the detailed molecular level will significantly advance our understanding of immunological disorders and infectious diseases, promoting the development of future therapeutics to improve patient clinical outcomes.
- C-type lectin