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J Immunol. 2010 Nov 1;185(9):5476-85. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1002154. Epub 2010 Oct 4.

Deletion of ripA alleviates suppression of the inflammasome and MAPK by Francisella tularensis.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7290, USA.


Francisella tularensis is a facultative intracellular pathogen and potential biothreat agent. Evasion of the immune response contributes to the extraordinary virulence of this organism although the mechanism is unclear. Whereas wild-type strains induced low levels of cytokines, an F. tularensis ripA deletion mutant (LVSΔripA) provoked significant release of IL-1β, IL-18, and TNF-α by resting macrophages. IL-1β and IL-18 secretion was dependent on inflammasome components pyrin-caspase recruitment domain/apoptotic speck-containing protein with a caspase recruitment domain and caspase-1, and the TLR/IL-1R signaling molecule MyD88 was required for inflammatory cytokine synthesis. Complementation of LVSΔripA with a plasmid encoding ripA restored immune evasion. Similar findings were observed in a human monocytic line. The presence of ripA nearly eliminated activation of MAPKs including ERK1/2, JNK, and p38, and pharmacologic inhibitors of these three MAPKs reduced cytokine induction by LVSΔripA. Animals infected with LVSΔripA mounted a stronger IL-1β and TNF-α response than that of mice infected with wild-type live vaccine strain. This analysis revealed novel immune evasive mechanisms of F. tularensis.

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