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Infect Immun. 2005 Aug;73(8):4512-21.

A toll-like receptor 2-responsive lipid effector pathway protects mammals against skin infections with gram-positive bacteria.

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  • 1Department of Immunology, The Scripps Research Institute, 10550 N. Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


flake (flk), an N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea-induced recessive germ line mutation of C57BL/6 mice, impairs the clearance of skin infections by Streptococcus pyogenes and Staphylococcus aureus, gram-positive pathogens that elicit innate immune responses by activating Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2). Positional cloning and sequencing revealed that flk is a novel allele of the stearoyl coenzyme A desaturase 1 gene (Scd1). flake homozygotes show reduced sebum production and are unable to synthesize the monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) palmitoleate (C(16:1)) and oleate (C(18:1)), both of which are bactericidal against gram-positive (but not gram-negative) organisms in vitro. However, intradermal MUFA administration to S. aureus-infected mice partially rescues the flake phenotype, which indicates that an additional component of the sebum may be required to improve bacterial clearance. In normal mice, transcription of Scd1-a gene with numerous NF-kappaB elements in its promoter--is strongly and specifically induced by TLR2 signaling. Similarly, the SCD1 gene is induced by TLR2 signaling in a human sebocyte cell line. These observations reveal the existence of a regulated, lipid-based antimicrobial effector pathway in mammals and suggest new approaches to the treatment or prevention of infections with gram-positive bacteria.

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