TLR13 recognizes bacterial 23S rRNA devoid of erythromycin resistance-forming modification

Science. 2012 Aug 31;337(6098):1111-5. doi: 10.1126/science.1220363. Epub 2012 Jul 19.


Host protection from infection relies on the recognition of pathogens by innate pattern-recognition receptors such as Toll-like receptors (TLRs). Here, we show that the orphan receptor TLR13 in mice recognizes a conserved 23S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) sequence that is the binding site of macrolide, lincosamide, and streptogramin group (MLS) antibiotics (including erythromycin) in bacteria. Notably, 23S rRNA from clinical isolates of erythromycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and synthetic oligoribonucleotides carrying methylated adenosine or a guanosine mimicking a MLS resistance-causing modification failed to stimulate TLR13. Thus, our results reveal both a natural TLR13 ligand and specific mechanisms of antibiotic resistance as potent bacterial immune evasion strategy, avoiding recognition via TLR13.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple, Bacterial / immunology*
  • Erythromycin / pharmacology*
  • Guanosine / metabolism
  • Lincosamides / pharmacology
  • Macrolides / pharmacology
  • Methylation
  • Mice
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 23S / immunology*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / immunology*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects
  • Staphylococcus aureus / immunology*
  • Streptogramins / pharmacology
  • Toll-Like Receptors / immunology*


  • Lincosamides
  • Macrolides
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 23S
  • Streptogramins
  • Tlr13 protein, mouse
  • Toll-Like Receptors
  • Guanosine
  • Erythromycin
  • Adenosine