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Eur J Immunol. 2005 Jan;35(1):282-9.

Toll-like receptor 6-independent signaling by diacylated lipopeptides.

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Department of Immunology and Cell Biology, Research Center Borstel, 23845 Borstel, Germany.


Bacterial lipopeptides are strong immune modulators that activate early host responses after infection as well as initiating adjuvant effects on the adaptive immune system. These lipopeptides induce signaling in cells of the immune system through Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2)-TLR1 or TLR2-TLR6 heteromers. So far it has been thought that triacylated lipopeptides, such as the synthetic N-palmitoyl-S-[2,3-bis(palmitoyloxy)-(2RS)-propyl]-(R)-cysteine (Pam3)-CSK4, signal through TLR2-TLR1 heteromers, whereas diacylated lipopeptides, like the macrophage-activating lipopeptide from Mycoplasma fermentans (MALP2) or S-[2,3-bis(palmitoyloxy)-(2RS)-propyl]-(R)-cysteine (Pam2)-CGNNDESNISFKEK, induce signaling through TLR2-TLR6 heteromers. Using new synthetic lipopeptide derivatives we addressed the contribution of the lipid and, in particular, the peptide moieties with respect to TLR2 heteromer usage. In contrast to the current model of receptor usage, not only triacylated lipopeptides, but also diacylated lipopeptides like Pam2CSK4 and the elongated MALP2 analog Pam2CGNNDESNISFKEK-SK4 (MALP2-SK4) induced B lymphocyte proliferation and TNF-alpha secretion in macrophages in a TLR6-independent manner as determined with cells from TLR6-deficient mice. Our results indicate that both the lipid and the N-terminal peptides of lipoproteins contribute to the specificity of recognition by TLR2 heteromers and are responsible for the ligand-receptor interaction on host cells.

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