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Non-canonical Activation of Human Group 2 Innate Lymphoid Cells by TLR4 Signaling

By Li She, Hamad H. Alanazi, Jingwei Wang, Daniel P. Chupp, Yijiang Xu, Hong Zan, Zhenming Xu, Yilun Sun, Na Xiong, Nu Zhang, Xin Zhang, Yong Liu, Xiao-Dong Li

Posted 29 Oct 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.10.29.361345

Group 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2) are emerging as a critical player in type 2 immunity at barrier sites in response to microbial infections and allergen exposures. Although their classical activators are known to be host epithelial-derived alarmin cytokines IL-33, IL-25 or TSLP, it remains elusive whether ILC2 cells can be activated by directly sensing microbial ligands via pattern-recognition receptors such as toll-like receptors (TLRs). Here we report that toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) is a potent activating receptor of human ILC2. We found that among many microbial ligands examined, lipopolysaccharides (LPS) from multiple species of Gram-negative bacteria, was found to potently stimulate human, but not murine ILC2, to proliferate and produce massive amounts of type 2 effector cytokines IL-4, IL-5, and IL-13. LPS-activated ILC2 also had greatly enhanced the CD40 ligand (CD154) expression and were able to promote the proliferation and antibody production of human B cells in culture. In a humanized mouse model, LPS activated the adoptively transferred human ILC2 in mouse lungs. Both NF-kB and JAK pathways, but not the IL-33-ST2 pathway, were required for LPS to activate human ILC2. RNA-seq data further revealed that LPS induced a large set of genes overlapped significantly with those induced by IL-33. Collectively, these findings support a non-classical mode of activating human ILC2 cells via the LPS-TLR4 signaling axis. Thus, targeting TLR4 signaling pathway might be developed as a new approach by modulating ILC2 activation in treating various type 2 immunity-associated diseases. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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