Granulysin activates antigen-presenting cells through TLR4 and acts as an immune alarmin

Poonam Tewary*, De Yang, Gonzalo De La Rosa, Yana Li, Michael W. Finn, Alan M. Krensky, Carol Clayberger, Joost J. Oppenheim

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


Granulysin (GNLY), an antimicrobial protein present in the granules of human cytotoxic T lymphocytes and natural killer (NK) cells, is produced as an intact 15-kDa form that is cleaved to yield a 9-kDa form. Alarmins are endogenous mediators that can induce recruitment and activation of antigen-presenting cells (APCs) and consequently promote the generation of immune response. We hypothesized that GNLY might function as an alarmin. Here, we report that both 9- and 15-kDa forms of recombinant GNLY-induced in vitro chemotaxis and activation of both human and mouse dendritic cells (DCs), recruited inflammatory leucocytes, including APCs in mice, and promoted antigen-specific immune responses upon coadministration with an antigen. GNLY-induced APC recruitment and activation required the presence of Toll-like receptor 4. The observed activity of recombinant GNLY was not due to endotoxin contamination. The capability of the supernatant of GNLY-expressing HuT78 cells to activate DC was blocked by anti-GNLY antibodies. Finally we present evidence that supernatants of degranulated human NK92 or primary NK cells also activated DCs in a GNLY- and Toll-like receptor 4-dependent manner, indicating the physiologic relevance of our findings. Thus, GNLY is the first identified lymphocyte-derived alarmin capable of promoting APC recruitment, activation, and antigen-specific immune response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3465-3474
Number of pages10
Issue number18
StatePublished - Nov 4 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Immunology


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