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J Immunol. 2002 Jan 15;168(2):554-61.

Tissue expression of human Toll-like receptors and differential regulation of Toll-like receptor mRNAs in leukocytes in response to microbes, their products, and cytokines.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Genentech Inc., South San Francisco, CA 94080, USA.

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  • J Immunol 2002 Jul 15;169(2):1136.


Members of the Toll-like receptor (TLR) family mediate dorsoventral patterning and cellular adhesion in insects as well as immune responses to microbial products in both insects and mammals. TLRs are characterized by extracellular leucine-rich repeat domains and an intracellular signaling domain that shares homology with cytoplasmic sequences of the mammalian IL-1 receptor and plant disease resistance genes. Ten human TLRs have been cloned as well as RP105, a protein similar to TLR4 but lacking the intracellular signaling domain. However, only five TLRs have described functions as receptors for bacterial products (e.g., LPS, lipoproteins). To identify potential sites of action, we used quantitative real-time RT-PCR to examine systematically the expression of mRNAs encoding all known human TLRs, RP105, and several other proteins important in TLR functions (e.g., MD-1, MD-2, CD14, MyD88). Most tissues tested expressed at least one TLR, and several expressed all (spleen, peripheral blood leukocytes). Analysis of TLR expression in fractionated primary human leukocytes (CD4(+), CD8(+), CD19(+), monocytes, and granulocytes) indicates that professional phagocytes express the greatest variety of TLR mRNAs although several TLRs appear more restricted to B cells, suggesting additional roles for TLRs in adaptive immunity. Monocyte-like THP-1 cells regulate TLR mRNA levels in response to a variety of stimuli including phorbol esters, LPS, bacterial lipoproteins, live bacteria, and cytokines. Furthermore, addition of Escherichia coli to human blood ex vivo caused distinct changes in TLR expression, suggesting that important roles exist for these receptors in the establishment and resolution of infections and inflammation.

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