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Immunity. 2013 Jun 27;38(6):1187-97. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2013.02.024. Epub 2013 Jun 20.

Double-stranded RNA of intestinal commensal but not pathogenic bacteria triggers production of protective interferon-β.

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Biomedical Research Institute, National Institute for Advanced Industrial Science and Technology-AIST, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8566, Japan.


The small intestine harbors a substantial number of commensal bacteria and is sporadically invaded by pathogens, but the response to these microorganisms is fundamentally different. We identified a discriminatory sensor by using Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3). Double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) of one major commensal species, lactic acid bacteria (LAB), triggered interferon-β (IFN-β) production, which protected mice from experimental colitis. The LAB-induced IFN-β response was diminished by dsRNA digestion and treatment with endosomal inhibitors. Pathogenic bacteria contained less dsRNA and induced much less IFN-β than LAB, and dsRNA was not involved in pathogen-induced IFN-β induction. These results identify TLR3 as a sensor to small intestinal commensal bacteria and suggest that dsRNA in commensal bacteria contributes to anti-inflammatory and protective immune responses.

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