Absence of Mal/TIRAP Results in Abrogated Imidazoquinolinones-Dependent Activation of IRF7 and Suppressed IFNβ and IFN-I Activated Gene Production

Ewa Leszczyńska, Edyta Makuch, Małgorzata Mitkiewicz, Izabella Jasyk, Miwako Narita, Sabina Górska, Tomasz Lipiński, Jakub Siednienko
International Journal of Molecular Sciences 2020 November 25, 21 (23)
Activation of TLR7 by small imidazoquinoline molecules such as R848 or R837 initiates signaling cascades leading to the activation of transcription factors, such as AP-1, NF-κB, and interferon regulatory factors (IRFs) and afterward to the induction of cytokines and anti-viral Type I IFNs. In general, TLRs mediate these effects by utilizing different intracellular signaling molecules, one of them is Mal. Mal is a protein closely related to the antibacterial response, and its role in the TLR7 pathways remains poorly understood. In this study, we show that Mal determines the expression and secretion of IFNβ following activation of TLR7, a receptor that recognizes ssRNA and imidazoquinolines. Moreover, we observed that R848 induces Mal-dependent IFNβ production via ERK1/2 activation as well as the transcription factor IRF7 activation. Although activation of TLR7 leads to NF-κB-dependent expression of IRF7, this process is independent of Mal. We also demonstrate that secretion of IFNβ regulated by TLR7 and Mal in macrophages and dendritic cells leads to the IP-10 chemokine expression. In conclusion, our data demonstrate that Mal is a critical regulator of the imidazoquinolinones-dependent IFNβ production via ERK1/2/IRF7 signaling cascade which brings us closer to understanding the molecular mechanism's regulation of innate immune response.

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