Dendritic cell (DC) populations consist of multiple subsets that are essential orchestrators of the immune system. Technological limitations have so far prevented systems-wide accurate proteome comparison of rare cell populations in vivo. Here, we used high-resolution mass spectrometry-based proteomics, combined with label-free quantitation algorithms, to determine the proteome of mouse splenic conventional and plasmacytoid DC subsets to a depth of 5,780 and 6,664 proteins, respectively. We found mutually exclusive expression of pattern recognition pathways not previously known to be different among conventional DC subsets. Our experiments assigned key viral recognition functions to be exclusively expressed in CD4(+) and double-negative DCs. The CD8alpha(+) DCs largely lack the receptors required to sense certain viruses in the cytoplasm. By avoiding activation via cytoplasmic receptors, including retinoic acid-inducible gene I, CD8alpha(+) DCs likely gain a window of opportunity to process and present viral antigens before activation-induced shutdown of antigen presentation pathways occurs.
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