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J Immunol. 2003 Nov 15;171(10):4984-9.

Cutting edge: different Toll-like receptor agonists instruct dendritic cells to induce distinct Th responses via differential modulation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase-mitogen-activated protein kinase and c-Fos.

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Emory Vaccine Center, Atlanta, GA 30329, USA.


Dendritic cells (DCs) are pivotal in determining the class of an adaptive immune response. However, the molecular mechanisms within DCs that determine this decision-making process are unknown. Here, we demonstrate that distinct Toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands instruct human DCs to induce distinct Th cell responses by differentially modulating mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling. Thus, Escherichia coli LPS and flagellin, which trigger TLR4 and TLR5, respectively, instruct DCs to stimulate Th1 responses via IL-12p70 production, which depends on the phosphorylation of p38 and c-Jun N-terminal kinase 1/2. In contrast, the TLR2 agonist, Pam3cys, and the Th2 stimulus, schistosome egg Ags: 1) barely induce IL-12p70; 2) stimulate sustained duration and magnitude of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 phosphorylation, which results in stabilization of the transcription factor c-Fos, a suppressor of IL-12; and 3) yield a Th2 bias. Thus, distinct TLR agonists differentially modulate extracellular signal-regulated kinase signaling, c-Fos activity, and cytokine responses in DCs to stimulate different Th responses.

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