Genes and immunity

An ENU-induced splicing mutation reveals a role for Unc93b1 in early immune cell activation following influenza A H1N1 infection.

PMID 24848930


Genetic and immunological analysis of host-pathogen interactions can reveal fundamental mechanisms of susceptibility and resistance to infection. Modeling human infectious diseases among inbred mouse strains is a proven approach but is limited by naturally occurring genetic diversity. Using N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea mutagenesis, we created a recessive loss-of-function point mutation in Unc93b1 (unc-93 homolog B1 (C. elegans)), a chaperone for endosomal Toll-like receptors (TLR)3, TLR7 and TLR9, which we termed Letr for 'loss of endosomal TLR response'. We used Unc93b1(Letr/Letr) mice to study the role of Unc93b1 in the immune response to influenza A/PR/8/34 (H1N1), an important global respiratory pathogen. During the early phase of infection, Unc93b1(Letr/Letr) mice had fewer activated exudate macrophages and decreased expression of CXCL10, interferon (IFN)-γ and type I IFN. Mutation of Unc93b1 also led to reduced expression of the CD69 activation marker and a concomitant increase in the CD62L naive marker on CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells in infected lungs. Finally, loss of endosomal TLR signaling resulted in delayed viral clearance that coincided with increased tissue pathology during infection. Taken together, these findings establish a role for Unc93b1 and endosomal TLRs in the activation of both myeloid and lymphoid cells during the innate immune response to influenza.

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