TLR5 and Ipaf: dual sensors of bacterial flagellin in the innate immune system

Semin Immunopathol. 2007 Sep;29(3):275-88. doi: 10.1007/s00281-007-0078-z. Epub 2007 Aug 10.


The innate immune system precisely modulates the intensity of immune activation in response to infection. Flagellin is a microbe-associated molecular pattern that is present on both pathogenic and nonpathogenic bacteria. Macrophages and dendritic cells are able to determine the virulence of flagellated bacteria by sensing whether flagellin remains outside the mammalian cell, or if it gains access to the cytosol. Extracellular flagellin is detected by TLR5, which induces expression of proinflammatory cytokines, while flagellin within the cytosol of macrophages is detected through the Nod-like receptor (NLR) Ipaf, which activates caspase-1. In macrophages infected with Salmonella typhimurium or Legionella pneumophila, Ipaf becomes activated in response to flagellin that appears to be delivered to the cytosol via specific virulence factor transport systems (the SPI1 type III secretion system (T3SS) and the Dot/Icm type IV secretion system (T4SS), respectively). Thus, TLR5 responds more generally to flagellated bacteria, while Ipaf responds to bacteria that express both flagellin and virulence factors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins / immunology*
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins / metabolism
  • Bacterial Infections / immunology
  • CARD Signaling Adaptor Proteins / immunology*
  • CARD Signaling Adaptor Proteins / metabolism
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / immunology*
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Flagellin / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Protein Transport / immunology
  • Signal Transduction / immunology*
  • Toll-Like Receptor 5 / immunology*
  • Toll-Like Receptor 5 / metabolism


  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • CARD Signaling Adaptor Proteins
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins
  • NLRC4 protein, human
  • Toll-Like Receptor 5
  • Flagellin