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J Immunol. 2010 Aug 15;185(4):2405-15. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0904005. Epub 2010 Jul 21.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis and TLR2 agonists inhibit induction of type I IFN and class I MHC antigen cross processing by TLR9.

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Department of Pathology, Case Western Reserve University/University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA.


Dendritic cells (DCs) cross process exogenous Ags and present them by class I MHC (MHC-I) molecules to CD8(+) T cells specific for Ags from viruses and bacteria such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Unmethylated CpG DNA signals through TLR9 to induce type I IFN (IFN-alpha/beta), which enhances MHC-I Ag cross processing, but lipoproteins that signal through TLR2 do not induce IFN-alpha/beta. In these studies we observed that M. tuberculosis, which expresses agonists of both TLR9 and TLR2, did not induce production of IFN-alpha/beta or cross processing by murine DCs. Furthermore, M. tuberculosis and TLR2 agonists inhibited induction of IFN-alpha/beta and DC cross processing by CpG DNA. Exogenous IFN-alpha/beta effectively enhanced cross processing of M. bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin expressing OVA, bypassing the inhibition of induction of endogenous IFN-alpha/beta. In addition, inhibition of TLR9-induced cross processing of M. bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin expressing OVA could be circumvented by pretreating cells with CpG DNA to induce IFN-alpha/beta and MHC-I cross processing before inhibitory mycobacterial TLR2 agonists were present. Inhibition of the response to one TLR by another may affect the ultimate response to pathogens like M. tuberculosis that express agonists of multiple TLRs, including TLR2 and TLR9. This mechanism may contribute to immune evasion and explain why IFN-alpha/beta provides little contribution to host immunity to M. tuberculosis. However, downregulation of certain TLR responses may benefit the host by preventing detrimental excessive inflammation that may occur in the presence of persistent infection.

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