Comprehensive RNAi-based screening of human and mouse TLR pathways identifies species-specific preferences in signaling protein use

Jing Sun, Ning Li, Kyu Seon Oh, Bhaskar Dutta, Sharat J. Vayttaden, Bin Lin, Thomas S. Ebert, Dominic De Nardo, Joie Davis, Rustam Bagirzadeh, Nicolas W. Lounsbury, Chandrashekhar Pasare, Eicke Latz, Veit Hornung, Iain D C Fraser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are a major class of pattern recognition receptors, whichmediate the responses of innate immune cells to microbial stimuli. To systematically determine the roles of proteins in canonical TLR signaling pathways, we conducted an RNA interference (RNAi)-based screen in human and mouse macrophages. We observed a pattern of conserved signaling module dependencies across species, but found notable species-specific requirements at the level of individual proteins. Among these, weidentified unexpected differences in the involvement of members of the interleukin-1 receptor-associated kinase (IRAK) family between the human andmouse TLR pathways. Whereas TLR signaling inmousemacrophages depended primarily on IRAK4 and IRAK2, with little or no role for IRAK1, TLR signaling and proinflammatory cytokine production in human macrophages depended on IRAK1, with knockdown of IRAK4 or IRAK2 having less of an effect. Consistent with species-specific roles for these kinases, IRAK4 orthologs failed to rescue signaling in IRAK4-deficient macrophages from the other species, and only mouse macrophages required the kinase activity of IRAK4 to mediate TLR responses. The identification of a critical role for IRAK1 in TLR signaling in humans could potentially explain the association of IRAK1 with several autoimmune diseases. Furthermore, this study demonstrated how systematic screening can be used to identify important characteristics of innate immune responses across species, which could optimize therapeutic targeting to manipulate human TLR-dependent outputs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberra3
JournalScience signaling
Issue number409
StatePublished - Jan 5 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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