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J Immunol. 1998 Nov 15;161(10):5534-45.

Bacterial lipopolysaccharide can enter monocytes via two CD14-dependent pathways.

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Department of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas 75235, USA.


Host recognition and disposal of LPS, an important Gram-negative bacterial signal molecule, may involve intracellular processes. We have therefore analyzed the initial pathways by which LPS, a natural ligand of glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored CD14 (CD14-GPI), enters CD14-expressing THP-1 cells and normal human monocytes. Exposure of the cells to hypertonic medium obliterated coated pits and blocked 125I-labeled transferrin internalization, but failed to inhibit CD14-mediated internalization of [3H]LPS monomers or aggregates. Immunogold electron microscope analysis found that CD14-bound LPS moved principally into noncoated structures (mostly tubular invaginations, intracellular tubules, and vacuoles), whereas relatively little moved into coated pits and vesicles. When studied using two-color laser confocal microscopy, internalized Texas Red-LPS and BODIPY-transferrin were found in different locations and failed to overlap completely even after extended incubation. In contrast, in THP-1 cells that expressed CD14 fused to the transmembrane and cytosolic domains of the low-density lipoprotein receptor, a much larger fraction of the cell-associated LPS moved into coated pits and colocalized with intracellular transferrin. These results suggest that CD14 (GPI)-dependent internalization of LPS occurs predominantly via noncoated plasma membrane invaginations that direct LPS into vesicles that are distinct from transferrin-containing early endosomes. A smaller fraction of the LPS enters via coated pits. Aggregation, which greatly increases LPS internalization, accelerates its entry into the nonclathrin-mediated pathway.

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