Research ArticleImmunology

Type I interferon signaling contributes to the bias that Toll-like receptor 4 exhibits for signaling mediated by the adaptor protein TRIF

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Sci. Signal.  11 Nov 2014:
Vol. 7, Issue 351, pp. ra108
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2005442

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Signaling by Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) is mediated by either of two adaptor proteins: myeloid differentiation marker 88 (MyD88) or Toll–interleukin-1 (IL-1) receptor (TIR) domain–containing adaptor inducing interferon-β (TRIF). Whereas MyD88-mediated signaling leads to proinflammatory responses, TRIF-mediated signaling leads to less toxic immunostimulatory responses that are beneficial in boosting vaccine responses. The hypothesis that monophosphorylated lipid A structures act as TRIF-biased agonists of TLR4 offered a potential mechanism to explain their clinical value as vaccine adjuvants, but studies of TRIF-biased agonists have been contradictory. In experiments with mouse dendritic cells, we found that irrespective of the agonist used, TLR4 functioned as a TRIF-biased signaling system through a mechanism that depended on the autocrine and paracrine effects of type I interferons. The TLR4 agonist synthetic lipid A induced expression of TRIF-dependent genes at lower concentrations than were necessary to induce the expression of genes that depend on MyD88-mediated signaling. Blockade of type I interferon signaling selectively decreased the potency of lipid A (increased the concentration required) in inducing the expression of TRIF-dependent genes, thereby eliminating adaptor bias. These data may explain how high-potency TLR4 agonists can act as clinically useful vaccine adjuvants by selectively activating TRIF-dependent signaling events required for immunostimulation, without or only weakly activating potentially harmful MyD88-dependent inflammatory responses.

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