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Anal Chem. 2012 Nov 20;84(22):9713-20. doi: 10.1021/ac300668y. Epub 2012 Nov 9.

Toll-like receptor-based immuno-analysis of pathogenic microorganisms.

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  • 1Program for Bio-Microsystem Technology, 1, 5-ka, Anam-dong, Seongbuk-Gu, Seoul 136-701, Korea.


In this study, a novel mammalian cell receptor-based immuno-analytical method was developed for the detection of food-poisoning microorganisms by employing toll-like receptors (TLRs) as sensing elements. Upon infection with bacterium, the host cells respond by expressing TLRs, particularly TLR1, TLR2, and TLR4, on the outer membrane surfaces. To demonstrate the potential of using this method for detection of foodborne bacteria, we initially selected two model sensing systems, expression of TLR1 on a cell line, A549, for Escherichia coli and TLR2 on a cell line, RAW264.7, for Shigella sonnei (S. sonnei). Each TLR was detected using antibodies specific to the respective marker. We also found that the addition of immunoassay for the pathogen captured by the TLRs on the mammalian cells significantly enhanced the detection capability. A dual-analytical system for S. sonnei was constructed and successfully detected an extremely low number (about 3.2 CFU per well) of the pathogenic bacterium 5.1 h after infection. This detection time was 2.5 h earlier than the time required for detection using the conventional immunoassay. To endow the specificity of detection, the target bacterium was immuno-magnetically concentrated by a factor of 50 prior to infection. This further shortened the response to approximately 3.4 h, which was less than half of the time needed when the conventional method was used. Such enhanced performance could basically result from synergistic effects of bacterial dose increase and subsequent autocrine signaling on TLRs' up-regulation upon infection with live bacterium. This TLR-based immuno-sensing approach may also be expanded to monitor infection of the body, provided scanning of the signal is feasible.

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