Macrophages are the prime innate immune cells of the inflammatory response, and the combination of multiple signaling inputs derived from the recognition of host factors [e.g., interferon-g (IFN-γ)] and invading pathogen products (e.g., toll-like receptors (TLRs) agonists) are required to maintain essential macrophage function. The profound effects on biological outcomes of inflammation associated with IFN-γ pretreatment ("priming") and TLR4 ligand bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced macrophage activation (M1 or classical activation) have long been recognized, but the underlying mechanisms are not well defined. Therefore, we analyzed gene expression profiles of macrophages and identified genes, transcription factors (TFs), and transcription co-factors (TcoFs) that are uniquely or highly expressed in IFN-γ-mediated TLR4 ligand LPS-inducible versus only TLR4 ligand LPS-inducible primary macrophages. This macrophage gene expression has not been observed in macrophage cell lines. We also showed that interleukin (IL)-4 and IL-13 (M2 or alternative activation) elicited the induction of a distinct subset of genes related to M2 macrophage polarization. Importantly, this macrophage gene expression was also associated with promoter conservation. In particular, our approach revealed novel roles for the TFs and TcoFs in response to inflammation. We believe that the systematic approach presented herein is an important framework to better understand the transcriptional machinery of different macrophage subtypes.
Keywords: RNA-sequencing; interferon-g; lipopolysaccharide; macrophages; transcription factors.