TLR3 immunity to infection in mice and humans

Curr Opin Immunol. 2013 Feb;25(1):19-33. doi: 10.1016/j.coi.2012.11.001. Epub 2013 Jan 3.


TLR3 is a receptor for dsRNA, which is generated during most viral infections. However, other cellular processes may also produce dsRNA and there are other receptors for dsRNA. The role of TLR3 in protective immunity to viruses has been investigated in mice and humans with genetically impaired TLR3 responses. TLR3-deficient mice responded to experimental challenge with 16 different viruses in various ways. They were susceptible to eight viruses, normally resistant to three other viruses, and their survival rates were higher than those of wild-type mice following infection with four other viruses. Conflicting results were obtained for the other virus tested. These data are difficult to understand in terms of a simple pattern based on virus structure or tissue tropism. Surprisingly, the known human patients with inborn errors of the TLR3 pathway have remained healthy or developed encephalitis in the course of natural primary infection with HSV-1. These patients display no clear susceptibility to other infections, including viral infections, such as other forms of viral encephalitis and other HSV-1 diseases in particular. This restricted susceptibility to viruses seems to result from impaired TLR3-dependent IFN-α/β production by central nervous system (CNS)-resident non-hematopoietic cells infected with HSV-1. These studies neatly illustrate the value of combining genetic studies of experimental infections in mice and natural infections in humans, to elucidate the biological function of host molecules in protective immunity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Vesicular Transport / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Encephalitis / etiology
  • Encephalitis / immunology*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / genetics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • RNA, Double-Stranded / immunology*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Toll-Like Receptor 3 / genetics
  • Toll-Like Receptor 3 / immunology*
  • Virus Diseases / complications
  • Virus Diseases / immunology*


  • Adaptor Proteins, Vesicular Transport
  • RNA, Double-Stranded
  • TICAM1 protein, human
  • Toll-Like Receptor 3