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12:00 AM
 | 
Aug 15, 2005
 |  BioCentury  |  Tools & Techniques

Pathogen sensors

The Toll Collectors

Pathogen sensors

Toll-like receptors are transmembrane proteins that were discovered nine years ago in Drosophila when scientists noted that knockout flies lacking TLR genes lost their immunity to fungal infections. In humans, 12 TLRs have been reported, though the twelfth has not been described.

TLRs are expressed by immune cells, as well as in a number of tissues, including vascular endothelial cells, adipocytes, cardiac myocytes and intestinal epithelial cells. They function as sensors of pathogens and are activated by specific pathogen features. Ligands include cell wall components, proteins and nucleic acids.

TLRs also are therapeutically interesting because they bind to a number of synthetic...

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