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Nat Rev Rheumatol. 2009 Aug;5(8):448-56. doi: 10.1038/nrrheum.2009.136. Epub 2009 Jul 14.

Sensors of the innate immune system: their mode of action.

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Department of Immunology and Microbial Science, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


The discovery of molecular sensors that enable eukaryotes to recognize microbial pathogens and their products has been a key advance in our understanding of innate immunity. A tripartite sensing apparatus has developed to detect danger signals from infectious agents and damaged tissues, resulting in an immediate but short-lived defense response. This apparatus includes Toll-like receptors, retinoid acid-inducible gene-I-like receptors and other cytosolic nucleic acid sensors, and nucleotide-binding and oligomerization domain-like receptors; adaptors, kinases and other signaling molecules are required to elicit effective responses. Although this sensing is beneficial to the host, excessive activation and/or engagement by self molecules might induce autoimmune and other inflammatory disorders.

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