Cytokines made by macrophages play a critical role in determining the course of Legionella pneumophila infection. Prior murine-based modeling indicated that this cytokine response is initiated upon recognition of L. pneumophila by a subset of Toll-like receptors, namely TLR2, TLR5, and TLR9. Through the use of shRNA/siRNA knockdowns and subsequently CRISPR/Cas9 knockouts (KO), we determined that TRIF, an adaptor downstream of endosomal TLR3 and TLR4, is required for full cytokine secretion by human primary and cell-line macrophages. By characterizing a further set of TLR KO's in human U937 cells, we discerned that, contrary to the viewpoint garnered from murine-based studies, TLR3 and TLR4 (along with TLR2 and TLR5) are in fact vital to the macrophage response in the early stages of L. pneumophila infection. This conclusion was bolstered by showing that i) chemical inhibitors of TLR3 and TLR4 dampen the cytokine output of primary human macrophages and ii) transfection of TLR3 and TLR4 into HEK cells conferred an ability to sense L. pneumophila. TLR3- and TLR4-dependent cytokines promoted migration of human HL-60 neutrophils across an epithelial layer, pointing to the biological importance for the newfound signaling pathway. The response of U937 cells to L. pneumophila LPS was dependent upon TLR4, a further contradiction to murine-based studies, which had concluded that TLR2 is the receptor for Legionella LPS. Given the role of TLR3 in sensing nucleic acid (i.e., dsRNA), we utilized newly-made KO U937 cells to document that DNA-sensing by cGAS-STING and DNAPK are also needed for the response of human macrophages to L. pneumophila. Given the lack of attention given them in the bacterial field, C-type lectin receptors were similarly examined; but, they were not required. Overall, this study arguably represents the most extensive, single-characterization of Legionella-recognition receptors within human macrophages.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology