Reconstruction of LPS Transfer Cascade Reveals Structural Determinants within LBP, CD14, and TLR4-MD2 for Efficient LPS Recognition and Transfer

Immunity. 2017 Jan 17;46(1):38-50. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2016.11.007. Epub 2016 Dec 13.


Lipopolysaccharide (LPS), the major component of the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria, binds Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4)-MD2 complex and activates innate immune responses. LPS transfer to TLR4-MD2 is catalyzed by both LPS binding protein (LBP) and CD14. To define the sequential molecular interactions underlying this transfer, we reconstituted in vitro the entire LPS transfer process from LPS micelles to TLR4-MD2. Using electron microscopy and single-molecule approaches, we characterized the dynamic intermediate complexes for LPS transfer: LBP-LPS micelles, CD14-LBP-LPS micelle, and CD14-LPS-TLR4-MD2 complex. A single LBP molecule bound longitudinally to LPS micelles catalyzed multi-rounds of LPS transfer to CD14s that rapidly dissociated from LPB-LPS complex upon LPS transfer via electrostatic interactions. Subsequently, the single LPS molecule bound to CD14 was transferred to TLR4-MD2 in a TLR4-dependent manner. The definition of the structural determinants of the LPS transfer cascade to TLR4 may enable the development of targeted therapeutics for intervention in LPS-induced sepsis.

Keywords: CD14; LBP; LPS recognition; LPS transfer; TLR4/MD2; innate immunity; negative-stain EM; single-molecule fluorescence analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute-Phase Proteins / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors / immunology*
  • Lipopolysaccharides / immunology*
  • Lymphocyte Antigen 96 / immunology*
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Signal Transduction / immunology
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4 / immunology*


  • Acute-Phase Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Lymphocyte Antigen 96
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4
  • lipopolysaccharide-binding protein