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J Immunol. 2000 Jan 15;164(2):966-72.

Lipopolysaccharide activates distinct signaling pathways in intestinal epithelial cell lines expressing Toll-like receptors.

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  • 1Gastrointestinal Unit, Center for the Study of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, 02114, USA.


LPS elicits several immediate proinflammatoy responses in peripheral blood leukocytes via a recently described pathway including CD14, Toll-like receptors (TLR), serine-threonine kinases, and NF-kappaB transcription factor. However, the functional responses of intestinal epithelial cells (IEC) to stimulation with LPS are unknown. Expression of mRNA and protein for CD14 and TLRs were assessed by RT-PCR, immunoblotting, and immunohistochemistry in mouse and human IEC lines. LPS-induced activation of signaling pathways (p42/p44 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK), p38, p65, NF-kappaB) were assessed by immunoblotting and gel shifts. CD14 mRNA and protein expression were not detectable in IEC. However, human TLR2, TLR3, and TLR4 mRNA were present in IEC. TLR4 protein was expressed in all cell lines; however, TLR2 protein was absent in HT29 cells. Immunofluorescent staining of T84 cells demonstrated the cell-surface presence of the TLRs. LPS-stimulation of IEC resulted in activation (>1.5-fold) of the three members of the MAPK family. In contrast, LPS did not significantly induce activation of JNK and p38 in CMT93 cells, p38 in T84 cells and MAPK and JNK in HT29 cells. Downstream, LPS activated NF-kappaB in IEC in a time-, dose-, and serum-dependent manner. IEC express TLRs that appear to mediate LPS stimulation of specific intracellular signal transduction pathways in IEC. Thus, IEC may play a frontline role in monitoring lumenal bacteria.

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