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Nature. 2006 Jan 12;439(7073):204-7. Epub 2005 Nov 23.

Specificity in Toll-like receptor signalling through distinct effector functions of TRAF3 and TRAF6.

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Laboratory of Gene Regulation and Signal Transduction, Department of Pharmacology, School of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, California 92093, USA.


Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are activated by pathogen-associated molecular patterns to induce innate immune responses and production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, interferons and anti-inflammatory cytokines. TLRs activate downstream effectors through adaptors that contain Toll/interleukin-1 receptor (TIR) domains, but the mechanisms accounting for diversification of TLR effector functions are unclear. To dissect biochemically TLR signalling, we established a system for isolating signalling complexes assembled by dimerized adaptors. Using MyD88 as a prototypical adaptor, we identified TNF receptor-associated factor 3 (TRAF3) as a new component of TIR signalling complexes that is recruited along with TRAF6. Using myeloid cells from TRAF3- and TRAF6-deficient mice, we show that TRAF3 is essential for the induction of type I interferons (IFN) and the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-10 (IL-10), but is dispensable for expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines. In fact, TRAF3-deficient cells overproduce pro-inflammatory cytokines owing to defective IL-10 production. Despite their structural similarity, the functions of TRAF3 and TRAF6 are largely distinct. TRAF3 is also recruited to the adaptor TRIF (Toll/IL-1 receptor domain-containing adaptor-inducing IFN-beta) and is required for marshalling the protein kinase TBK1 (also called NAK) into TIR signalling complexes, thereby explaining its unique role in activation of the IFN response.

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