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Scand J Infect Dis. 2003;35(9):660-4.

Cell distributions and functions of Toll-like receptor 4 studied by fluorescent gene constructs.

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Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway.


Bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is recognized in mammals by a receptor complex composed of CD14, Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4), and MD-2. The detailed mechanisms of how TLR4 transmits the signal from the outside to the inside of the cell remain to be elucidated. One way of studying TLR4 signaling mechanisms is to construct chimeras of TLR molecules C-terminally fused to fluorescent proteins and stably express these constructs in cells. Such constructs are functional when transfected into HEK293 epithelial cells. Confocal microscopy of TLR4 expression in live cells demonstrated pronounced expression on the plasma membrane as well in the Golgi apparatus. Studies were performed to clarify whether expression of TLR4 in the Golgi was necessary for LPS stimulation. Rapid recycling of TLR4/CD14/MD-2 complexes between the Golgi and the plasma membrane was a prominent phenomenon. In agreement with other types of plasma membrane receptors, aggregation of TLR4 by immobilized TLR4 antibodies was sufficient to induce signaling. Also, pharmacological disruption of the Golgi did not inhibit LPS induced NF-kappaB activation. Furthermore, LPS stimulation recruited the adapter molecule, MyD88, to the inside of the plasma membrane. Thus, LPS signaling commences on the plasma membrane and is independent of trafficking to the Golgi.

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