Trypsin-sensitive modulation of intestinal epithelial MD-2 as mechanism of lipopolysaccharide tolerance

Elke Cario, Douglas T. Golenbock, Alberto Visintin, Michael Rünzi, Guido Gerken, Daniel K. Podolsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Intestinal epithelial cells (IEC) are constantly exposed to both high concentrations of the bacterial ligand LPS and the serine protease trypsin. MD-2, which contains multiple trypsin cleavage sites, is an essential accessory glycoprotein required for LPS recognition and signaling through TLR4. The aim of this study was to characterize the expression and sabcellular distribution of intestinal epithelial MD-2 and to delineate potential functional interactions with trypsin and then alteration in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Although MD-2 protein expression was minimal in primary IEC of normal colonic or ileal mucosa, expression was significantly increased in IEC from patients with active IBD colitis, but not in ileal areas from patients with severe Crohn's disease. Endogenous MD-2 was predominantly retained in the calnexin-calreticulin cycle of the endoplasmic reticulum; only a small fraction was exported to the Golgi. MD-2 expression correlated inversely with trypsin activity. Biochemical evidence and in vitro experiments demonstrated that trypsin exposure resulted in extensive proteolysis of endogenous and soluble MD-2 protein, but not of TLR4 in IEC, and was associated with desensitization of IEC to LPS. In conclusion, the present study suggests that endoplasmic reticulum-associated MD-2 expression in IBD may be altered by ileal protease in inflammation, leading to impaired LPS recognition and hyporesponsiveness through MD-2 proteolysis in IEC, thus implying a physiologic mechanism that helps maintain LPS tolerance in the intestine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4258-4266
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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