The glycosylphosphatidylinositols (GPIs) of Plasmodium falciparum have been shown to activate macrophages and produce inflammatory responses. The activation of macrophages by malarial GPIs involves engagement of Toll like receptor 2 (TLR2) resulting in the intracellular signaling and production of cytokines. In the present study, we investigated the requirement of TLR1 and TLR6 for the TLR2 mediated cell signaling and proinflammatory cytokine production by macrophages. The data demonstrate that malarial GPIs, which contain three fatty acid substituents, preferentially engage TLR2-TLR1 dimeric pair than TLR2-TLR6, whereas their derivatives, sn-2 lyso GPIs, that contain two fatty acid substituents recognize TLR2-TLR6 with slightly higher selectivity as compared to TLR2-TLR1 heteromeric pair. These results are analogous to the recognition of triacylated bacterial and diacylated mycoplasmal lipoproteins, respectively, by TLR2-TLR1 and TLR2-TLR6 dimers, suggesting that the lipid portions of the microbial GPI ligands play essential role in determining their TLR recognition specificity.
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