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Nat Immunol. 2004 Dec;5(12):1227-34. Epub 2004 Nov 7.

Bone marrow plasmacytoid dendritic cells can differentiate into myeloid dendritic cells upon virus infection.

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Division of Virology, Department of Neuropharmacology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.


Two subsets of dendritic cell (DCs), plasmacytoid (p) and myeloid (m) DCs, have been described in humans and mice. These subsets are known to have divergent roles during an immune response, but their developmental course is unclear. Here we report that virus infection induces bone marrow pDCs to differentiate into mDCs, thereby undergoing profound phenotypic and functional changes including the acquisition of enhanced antigen-presenting capacity and the ability to recognize different microbial structures through Toll-like receptor 4. The conversion of pDCs into mDCs is also induced by the injection of double-stranded RNA and requires type I interferons. Our results establish a precursor-product developmental relationship between these two DC subsets and highlight unexpected plasticity of bone marrow pDCs.

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