Research ArticleImmunology

Signals trigger state-specific transcriptional programs to support diversity and homeostasis in immune cells

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Science Signaling  14 May 2019:
Vol. 12, Issue 581, eaao5820
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aao5820

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Defining macrophage states

Macrophages are immune cells that play a major role in maintaining tissue homeostasis. Because of their high plasticity, macrophages can rapidly respond to various external and internal cues, such as exposure to infectious agents or metabolic stress. Through single-cell analyses of mRNA and proteins in macrophage populations and computational analysis, Fischer et al. characterized the differential transcriptional programs driven by the microbial product LPS and the free fatty acid palmitate, both of which engage the same cell surface receptor, TLR4. These data helped to characterize the pro- and anti-inflammatory macrophage states induced by both stimuli, determine how antagonistic genes interacted with each other, and measure transcriptional signaling efficiency in these cells.

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