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Severe impairment of interleukin-1 and Toll-like receptor signalling in mice lacking IRAK-4


Toll-like receptors (TLRs), which recognize pathogen-associated molecular patterns, and members of the pro-inflammatory interleukin-1 receptor (IL-1R) family, share homologies in their cytoplasmic domains called Toll/IL-1R/plant R gene homology (TIR) domains1,2,3. Intracellular signalling mechanisms mediated by TIRs are similar4, with MyD88 (refs 58) and TRAF6 (refs 9, 10) having critical roles. Signal transduction between MyD88 and TRAF6 is known to involve the serine-threonine kinase IL-1 receptor-associated kinase 1 (IRAK-1)11 and two homologous proteins, IRAK-2 (ref. 12) and IRAK-M13. However, the physiological functions of the IRAK molecules remain unclear, and gene-targeting studies have shown that IRAK-1 is only partially required for IL-1R and TLR signalling14,15. Here we show by gene-targeting that IRAK-4, an IRAK molecule closely related to the Drosophila Pelle protein16, is indispensable for the responses of animals and cultured cells to IL-1 and ligands that stimulate various TLRs. IRAK-4-deficient animals are completely resistant to a lethal dose of lipopolysaccharide (LPS). In addition, animals lacking IRAK-4 are severely impaired in their responses to viral and bacterial challenges. Our results indicate that IRAK-4 has an essential role in innate immunity.

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Figure 1: Generation of Irak-4−/− mice.
Figure 2: Impaired responses to IL-1 in Irak-4−/− mice and cells.
Figure 3: Impaired responses to LPS in Irak-4−/− mice and cells.
Figure 4: Responses of Irak-4−/− mice and cells to TLR2, TLR3 and TLR9 ligands.
Figure 5: Response of Irak-4−/− mice to challenge with LCMV or S. aureus.
Figure 6: Requirement of IRAK-4 for signalling downstream of IL-1R or TLR engagement.


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We thank C. Richardson, S. Pownall, A. Suzuki, Y. Horie, M. Bonnard and S. Der for reagents and discussions. We also thank E. Lye, T. Horacek and S. Sugimoto for technical assistance, and M. Saunders for scientific editing. This work was supported in part by the National Cancer Institute of Canada (NCIC), with funds from the Terry Fox Run (W.-C.Y.).

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Suzuki, N., Suzuki, S., Duncan, G. et al. Severe impairment of interleukin-1 and Toll-like receptor signalling in mice lacking IRAK-4. Nature 416, 750–754 (2002).

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