The interaction of bovine cells with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) was explored using human embryo kidney (HEK) 293 cell line stably transduced with bovine toll-like receptor-4 (TLR4) alone or in combination with bovine MD-2. These lines and mock-transduced HEK293 cells were tested by flow cytometry for LPS-fluorescein isothiocyanate (LPS-FITC) binding, nuclear factor kappa B (NFkappaB) activation, interleukin-8 (IL-8) production and interferon-beta mRNA expression/interferon (IFN) type I production. Whereas bovine TLR4 was sufficient to promote binding of high concentrations of LPS-FITC, both bovine TLR4 and MD-2 were required for activation by LPS, as assessed by NFkappaB activation and IL-8 production. Induction of IFN bioactivity was not observed in doubly transduced HEK293 cells, and no evidence for IFN-beta mRNA induction in response to LPS was obtained, although cells responded by IFN-beta mRNA expression to stimulation by Sendai virus and poly-inosinic acid-poly-cytidylic acid (poly(I:C)). Cells stably transduced with both bovine TLR4 and bovine MD-2 responded to LPS by IL-8 production, in decreasing order, in the presence of fetal bovine serum (FCS), of human serum, and of human serum albumin (HSA). The reduced activity in the presence of HSA could be restored by the addition of soluble CD14 (sCD14) but not of LPS binding protein (LBP). This is in contrast to macrophages which show a superior response to LPS in the presence of HSA when compared with macrophages stimulated by LPS in the presence of FCS. This suggests that macrophages but not HEK293 cells express factors rendering LPS stimulation serum-independent. Stably double-transduced cells reacted, in decreasing order, to LPS from Rhodobacter sphaeroides, to LPS from Escherichia coli, to synthetic lipd-IVa (compound 406), to diphosphoryl-lipid-A (S. minnesota) and to monophosphoryl-lipid-A (S. minnesota). They failed to react to the murine MD-2/TLR4 ligand taxol. This resembles the reactivity of bovine macrophages with regard to sensitivity (ED(50)) and order of potency but is distinct from the reactivity pattern of other species. This formally establishes that in order to react to LPS, cattle cells require serum factors (e.g. sCD14) and cell-expressed factors such as MD-2 and TLR4. The cell lines described are the first of a series expressing defined pattern recognition receptors (PRR) of bovine origin. They will be useful in the study of the interaction of the bovine TLR4-MD-2 complex and Gram-negative bovine pathogens, e.g. the agents causing Gram-negative bovine mastitis.