Dendritic cells (DCs) are among the first cells that recognize incoming viruses at the mucosal portals of entry. Initial interaction between DCs and viruses facilitates cell activation and migration to secondary lymphoid tissues, where these antigen presenting cells (APCs) prime specific adaptive immune responses. Some viruses, however, have evolved strategies to subvert the migratory capacity of DCs as a way to disseminate infection systemically. Here we focus on the role of Siglec-1, a sialic acid-binding type I lectin receptor potently upregulated by type I interferons on DCs, that acts as a double edge sword, containing viral replication through the induction of antiviral immunity, but also favoring viral spread within tissues. Such is the case for distant enveloped viruses like human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 or Ebola virus (EBOV), which incorporate sialic acid-containing gangliosides on their viral membrane and are effectively recognized by Siglec-1. Here we review how Siglec-1 is highly induced on the surface of human DCs upon viral infection, the way this impacts different antigen presentation pathways, and how enveloped viruses have evolved to exploit these APC functions as a potent dissemination strategy in different anatomical compartments.
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