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J Biol Chem. 2005 Nov 4;280(44):36616-25. Epub 2005 Aug 29.

Domain exchange between human toll-like receptors 1 and 6 reveals a region required for lipopeptide discrimination.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA.


Among the 10 human Toll-like receptors (TLRs), TLR2 appears to be unique in its requirement for cooperation with other TLRs, namely TLR1 and TLR6, to mediate cell signaling. Through reconstitution experiments, we have defined more precisely the function of these human TLRs. Human colonic epithelial cells cotransfected with TLR1 and -2 preferentially respond to a synthetic tripalmitoylated bacterial lipopeptide analogue (Pam(3)CSK(4)). However, examination of a wide variety of lipopeptide derivatives indicates that recognition by human TLR1 and -2 does not strictly correlate with the number or position of the acyl chains on the modified cysteine residue. Conversely, human TLR2 and -6 exclusively respond to lipopeptides possessing a diacylglycerol group. Most surprisingly, we have found that an R stereoisomer of diacylated macrophage-activating lipopeptide 2 (MALP-2) exclusively activates epithelial cells through TLR6 and -2 but not through TLR1 and -2. These results suggest that the chirality of the central carbon of the diacylglycerol group of these agonists is a structural determinant for human TLR recognition. Examination of chimeric receptors, generated by domain exchange between TLR1 and -6, has revealed that leucine-rich repeats 9-12 of the extracellular domain enable these receptors to discriminate between structurally similar lipopeptides. However, additional chimeric constructs reveal that this region alone is not sufficient to generate receptors that can functionally cooperate with TLR2. Our results support the idea that TLR1 and TLR6 diverged during evolution to differentially recognize natural lipoprotein structures and that this function has been conserved with respect to the human receptors.

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