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J Immunol. 2013 Apr 15;190(8):3994-4004. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1200873. Epub 2013 Mar 11.

Ly49Q positively regulates type I IFN production by plasmacytoid dendritic cells in an immunoreceptor tyrosine-based inhibitory motif-dependent manner.

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Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Immunology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario K1H 8M5, Canada.


Plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDC) are the major producers of type I IFN during the initial immune response to viral infection. Ly49Q, a C-type lectin-like receptor specific for MHC-I, possesses a cytoplasmic ITIM and is highly expressed on murine pDC. Using Ly49Q-deficient mice, we show that, regardless of strain background, this receptor is required for maximum IFN-α production by pDC. Furthermore, Ly49Q expression on pDC, but not myeloid dendritic cells, is necessary for optimal IL-12 secretion, MHC-II expression, activation of CD4(+) T cell proliferation, and nuclear translocation of the master IFN-α regulator IFN regulatory factor 7 in response to TLR9 agonists. In contrast, the absence of Ly49Q did not affect plasmacytoid dendritic cell-triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells expression or pDC viability. Genetic complementation revealed that IFN-α production by pDC is dependent on an intact tyrosine residue in the Ly49Q cytoplasmic ITIM. However, pharmacological inhibitors and phosphatase-deficient mice indicate that Src homology 2 domain-containing phosphatase 1 (SHP)-1, SHP-2, and SHIP phosphatase activity is dispensable for this function. Finally, we observed that Ly49Q itself is downregulated on pDC in response to CpG exposure in an ITIM-independent manner. In conclusion, Ly49Q enhances TLR9-mediated signaling events, leading to IFN regulatory factor 7 nuclear translocation and expression of IFN-I genes in an ITIM-dependent manner that can proceed without the involvement of SHP-1, SHP-2, and SHIP.

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