EMBO reports

EGFR kinase activity is required for TLR4 signaling and the septic shock response.

PMID 26341626


Mammalian Toll-like receptors (TLR) recognize microbial products and elicit transient immune responses that protect the infected host from disease. TLR4--which signals from both plasma and endosomal membranes--is activated by bacterial lipopolysaccharides (LPS) and induces many cytokine genes, the prolonged expression of which causes septic shock in mice. We report here that the expression of some TLR4-induced genes in myeloid cells requires the protein kinase activity of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). EGFR inhibition affects TLR4-induced responses differently depending on the target gene. The induction of interferon-β (IFN-β) and IFN-inducible genes is strongly inhibited, whereas TNF-α induction is enhanced. Inhibition is specific to the IFN-regulatory factor (IRF)-driven genes because EGFR is required for IRF activation downstream of TLR--as is IRF co-activator β-catenin--through the PI3 kinase/AKT pathway. Administration of an EGFR inhibitor to mice protects them from LPS-induced septic shock and death by selectively blocking the IFN branch of TLR4 signaling. These results demonstrate a selective regulation of TLR4 signaling by EGFR and highlight the potential use of EGFR inhibitors to treat septic shock syndrome.