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J Biol Chem. 2007 Sep 21;282(38):27647-58. Epub 2007 Jul 19.

Vibrio vulnificus IlpA-induced cytokine production is mediated by Toll-like receptor 2.

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Department of Environmental Medical Biology and Institute of Tropical Medicine, Brain Korea 21 Project, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul 120-752, Republic of Korea.


Vibrio vulnificus is a pathogenic bacterium causing primary septicemia, which follows a classical septic shock pathway, including an overwhelming inflammatory cytokine response. In this study, we identified a putative lipoprotein of V. vulnificus, encoded by the ilpA gene, as one of the surface proteins that specifically reacted with the antibodies raised against outer membrane proteins of V. vulnificus. Using a mutant V. vulnificus in which its ilpA gene was knocked out, we found that IlpA is important in the production of interferon-gamma in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Production of tumor necrosis factor-alpha and interleukin-6 is also induced by the recombinant IlpA (rIlpA) in human monocytes. Lipidation of the rIlpA was observed by in vivo labeling in Escherichia coli. Experiments using the mutant IlpA, which is unable to be modified by lipidation, indicate that the lipid moiety of this protein has an essential property for cytokine production in human cells. Pretreatment of monocytes with antibodies against Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) inhibited production of both tumor necrosis factor-alpha and interleukin-6. The role of TLR2 in IlpA-induced cytokine production was confirmed by an in vitro assay, in which only the TLR2-expressing cells showed a dramatic induction of nuclear factor-kappaB activity by rIlpA. In addition, rIlpA treatment resulted in induction of TLR2 transcription in human cells. In comparison with the wild type V. vulnificus, the ilpA mutant showed a reduced mortality in mice. These results demonstrate that IlpA of V. vulnificus functions as an immunostimulant to human cells via TLR2.

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