Leptospiral lipopolysaccharide activates cells through a TLR2-dependent mechanism

Catherine Werts, Richard I. Tapping, John C. Mathison, Tsung Hsien Chuang, Vladimir Kravchenko, Isabelle Saint Girons, David A. Haake, Paul J. Godowski, Fumitaka Hayashi, Adrian Ozinsky, David M. Underhill, Carsten J. Kirschning, Hermann Wagner, Alan Aderem, Peter S. Tobias, Richard J. Ulevitch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Leptospira interrogans are zoonotic pathogens that have been linked to a recent increased incidence of morbidity and mortality in highly populated tropical urban centers. They are unique among invasive spirochetes in that they contain outer membrane lipopolysaccharide (LPS) as well as lipoproteins. Here we show that both these leptospiral outer membrane constituents activate macrophages through CD14 and the Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2). Conversely, it seems that TLR4, a central component for recognition of Gram-negative LPS, is not involved in cellular responses to L. interrogans. We also show that for intact L. interrogans, it is LPS, not lipoprotein, that constitutes the predominant signaling component for macrophages through a TLR2 pathway. These data provide a basis for understanding the innate immune response caused by leptospirosis and demonstrate a new ligand specificity for TLR2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)346-352
Number of pages7
JournalNature Immunology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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