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Blood. 2003 Jun 1;101(11):4500-4. Epub 2003 Jan 30.

A role for Toll-like receptors in acquired immunity: up-regulation of TLR9 by BCR triggering in naive B cells and constitutive expression in memory B cells.

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Institute for Research in Biomedicine, Bellinzona, Switzerland.


Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are pattern recognition receptors that trigger innate immunity. In this study we investigated the expression of 10 TLRs in human naive and memory B-cell subsets. We report that in human naive B cells most TLRs are expressed at low to undetectable levels, but the expression of TLR9 and TLR10 is rapidly induced following B-cell-receptor (BCR) triggering. In contrast, memory B cells express several TLRs at constitutively high levels. The differential expression of TLR9 correlates with responsiveness to its agonist, CpG DNA. Thus, human memory B cells proliferate and differentiate to immunoglobulin (Ig)-secreting cells in response to CpG, while naive B do so only if simultaneously triggered through the BCR. The BCR-induced expression of TLRs in human naive B cells prevents polyclonal activation in a primary response, because it restricts stimulation to antigen-specific B cells. In contrast, the constitutive expression of TLRs in memory B cells allows polyclonal activation of the entire memory pool. Thus, in human B cells TLRs are downstream of BCR and play a role both in the primary response and in the memory phase.

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