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PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e37330. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0037330. Epub 2012 May 17.

Francisella tularensis elicits IL-10 via a PGE₂-inducible factor, to drive macrophage MARCH1 expression and class II down-regulation.

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  • 1Center for Immunology and Microbial Disease, Albany Medical College, Albany, New York, United States of America.


Francisella tularensis is a bacterial pathogen that uses host-derived PGE₂ to subvert the host's adaptive immune responses in multiple ways. Francisella-induced PGE₂ acts directly on CD4 T cells to blunt production of IFN-γ. Francisella-induced PGE₂ can also elicit production of a >10 kDa soluble host factor termed FTMØSN (F. tularensismacrophage supernatant), which acts on IFN-γ pre-activated MØ to down-regulate MHC class II expression via a ubiquitin-dependent mechanism, blocking antigen presentation to CD4 T cells. Here, we report that FTMØSN-induced down-regulation of MØ class II is the result of the induction of MARCH1, and that MØ expressing MARCH1 "resistant" class II molecules are resistant to FTMØSN-induced class II down-regulation. Since PGE₂ can induce IL-10 production and IL-10 is the only reported cytokine able to induce MARCH1 expression in monocytes and dendritic cells, these findings suggested that IL-10 is the active factor in FTMØSN. However, use of IL-10 knockout MØ established that IL-10 is not the active factor in FTMØSN, but rather that Francisella-elicited PGE₂ drives production of a >10 kDa host factor distinct from IL-10. This factor then drives MØ IL-10 production to induce MARCH1 expression and the resultant class II down-regulation. Since many human pathogens such as Salmonella typhi, Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Legionella pneumophila also induce production of host PGE₂, these results suggest that a yet-to-be-identified PGE₂-inducible host factor capable of inducing IL-10 is central to the immune evasion mechanisms of multiple important human pathogens.

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