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J Immunol. 2005 Nov 15;175(10):6723-32.

MyD88-dependent and -independent murine cytomegalovirus sensing for IFN-alpha release and initiation of immune responses in vivo.

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Schering-Plough, Laboratory for Immunological Research, Dardilly, France.


Antiviral immunity requires early and late mechanisms in which IFN-alpha and IL-12 play major roles. However, the initial events leading to their production remain largely unclear. Given the crucial role of TLR in innate recognition, we investigated their role in antiviral immunity in vivo. Upon murine CMV (MCMV) infection, both MyD88-/- and TLR9-/- mice were more susceptible and presented increased viral loads compared with C57BL/6, TLR2-/-, TLR3-/-, or TLR4-/- mice. However, in terms of resistance to infection, IFN-alpha production and in many other parameters of early inflammatory responses, the MyD88-/- mice showed a more defective response than TLR9-/- mice. In the absence of the TLR9/MyD88 signaling pathway, cytokine production was dramatically impaired with a complete abolition of bioactive IL-12p70 serum release contrasting with a high flexibility for IFN-alpha release, which is initially (36 h) plasmacytoid dendritic cell- and MyD88-dependent, and subsequently (44 h) PDC-, MyD88-independent and, most likely, TLR-independent. NK cells from MCMV-infected MyD88-/- and TLR9-/- mice displayed a severely impaired IFN-gamma production, yet retained enhanced cytotoxic activity. In addition, dendritic cell activation and critical inflammatory cell trafficking toward the liver were still effective. In the long term, except for isotype switching to MCMV-specific IgG1, the establishment of Ab responses was not significantly altered. Thus, our results demonstrate a critical requirement of TLR9 in the process of MCMV sensing to assure rapid antiviral responses, coordinated with other TLR-dependent and -independent events that are sufficient to establish adaptive immunity.

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