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Cell Physiol Biochem. 2018;49(2):662-677. doi: 10.1159/000493032. Epub 2018 Aug 30.

Overexpression of Toll-Like Receptor 4 Contributes to Phagocytosis of Salmonella Enterica Serovar Typhimurium via Phosphoinositide 3-Kinase Signaling in Sheep.

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Beijing Key Laboratory for Animal Genetic Improvement, National Engineering Laboratory for Animal Breeding, Key Laboratory of Animal Genetics and Breeding of the Ministry of Agriculture, College of Animal Science and Technology, China Agricultural University, Beijing, China.
State Key Laboratory of Stem Cell and Reproductive Biology, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.
Tianjin Institute of Animal Sciences, Tianjin, China.



Phagocytosis of bacteria by monocytes/macrophages can trigger the immune response and the clearance of bacteria. This innate immune response involves Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4). However, much remains unknown about the mechanism of TLR4-regulated phagocytosis of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium (S. typhimurium) within sheep monocytes/macrophages. Here, we aimed to address these knowledge gaps by infecting transgenic sheep overexpressing TLR4 with S. typhimurium and examining the phagocytic mechanisms involved.


Transgenic sheep were generated by microinjection of the constructed plasmids into fertilized eggs. Monocytes/macrophages isolated from sheep blood were stimulated with LPS and S. typhimurium. Phagocytosis-related factor expression, phagocytic ability, and adhesion were then determined. TLR4/phosphatidylinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) signaling was inhibited to investigate if this pathway is involved in changes in bacterial internalization in sheep.


We found that TLR4 overexpression effectively activated the PI3K signaling pathway and upregulated the expression of scavenger receptors. Additionally, actin polymerization and adhesive capacity were both enhanced in TLR4-overexpressing sheep monocytes/macrophages. TLR4 inhibition decreased S. typhimurium phagocytosis by reducing the actin polymerization and adhesive capacity of cells. Furthermore, inhibition of PI3K markedly impaired TLR4-dependent phagocytosis by restraining actin polymerization and scavenger receptor expression and reduced the adhesive capacity of the monocytes/macrophages.


Our findings indicate that overexpression of TLR4 enhances phagocytosis through PI3K signaling and the subsequent activation of actin polymerization and scavenger receptors in sheep monocytes/macrophages infected with S. typhimurium.


PI3K; Phagocytosis; Scavenger receptor; Toll-like receptor 4; Transgenic sheep

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