Humanized TLR4/MD-2 Mice Reveal LPS Recognition Differentially Impacts Susceptibility to Yersinia pestis and Salmonella enterica

Hajjar, Adeline M.; Ernst, Robert K.; Fortuno III, Edgardo S.; Brasfield, Alicia S.; Yam, Cathy S.; Newlon, Lindsay A.; Kollmann, Tobias R.; Miller, Samuel I.; Wilson, Christopher B.
October 2012
PLoS Pathogens;Oct2012, Vol. 8 Issue 10, Special section p1
Academic Journal
Although lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulation through the Toll-like receptor (TLR)-4/MD-2 receptor complex activates host defense against Gram-negative bacterial pathogens, how species-specific differences in LPS recognition impact host defense remains undefined. Herein, we establish how temperature dependent shifts in the lipid A of Yersinia pestis LPS that differentially impact recognition by mouse versus human TLR4/MD-2 dictate infection susceptibility. When grown at 37°C, Y. pestis LPS is hypo-acylated and less stimulatory to human compared with murine TLR4/MD-2. By contrast, when grown at reduced temperatures, Y. pestis LPS is more acylated, and stimulates cells equally via human and mouse TLR4/MD-2. To investigate how these temperature dependent shifts in LPS impact infection susceptibility, transgenic mice expressing human rather than mouse TLR4/MD-2 were generated. We found the increased susceptibility to Y. pestis for "humanized" TLR4/MD-2 mice directly paralleled blunted inflammatory cytokine production in response to stimulation with purified LPS. By contrast, for other Gram-negative pathogens with highly acylated lipid A including Salmonella enterica or Escherichia coli, infection susceptibility and the response after stimulation with LPS were indistinguishable between mice expressing human or mouse TLR4/MD-2. Thus, Y. pestis exploits temperature-dependent shifts in LPS acylation to selectively evade recognition by human TLR4/MD-2 uncovered with "humanized" TLR4/MD-2 transgenic mice.


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