Direct TLR2 signaling is critical for NK cell activation and function in response to vaccinia viral infection.
Natural killer (NK) cells play an essential role in innate immune control of poxviral infections in vivo. However, the mechanism(s) underlying NK cell activation and function in response to poxviruses remains poorly understood. In a mouse model of infection with vaccinia virus (VV), the most studied member of the poxvirus family, we identified that the Toll-like receptor (TLR) 2-myeloid differentiating factor 88 (MyD88) pathway was critical for the activation of NK cells and the control of VV infection in vivo. We further showed that TLR2 signaling on NK cells, but not on accessory cells such as dendritic cells (DCs), was necessary for NK cell activation and that this intrinsic TLR2-MyD88 signaling pathway was required for NK cell activation and played a critical role in the control of VV infection in vivo. In addition, we showed that the activating receptor NKG2D was also important for efficient NK activation and function, as well as recognition of VV-infected targets. We further demonstrated that VV could directly activate NK cells via TLR2 in the presence of cytokines in vitro and TLR2-MyD88-dependent activation of NK cells by VV was mediated through the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)-extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) pathway. Taken together, these results represent the first evidence that intrinsic TLR signaling is critical for NK cell activation and function in the control of a viral infection in vivo, indicate that multiple pathways are required for efficient NK cell activation and function in response to VV infection, and may provide important insights into the design of effective strategies to combat poxviral infections.
Martinez, J; Huang, X; Yang, Y
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