Lung infection by Burkholderia species, in particular B. cenocepacia, accelerates tissue damage and increase post-lung transplant mortality in cystic fibrosis patients. Host- microbes interplay largely depends on interactions between pathogen specific molecules and innate immune receptors such as the Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4), which recognizes the lipid A moiety of the bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS). The human TLR4/MD-2 LPS receptor complex is strongly activated by hexa-acylated lipid A and poorly activated by underacylated lipid A. Here, we report that B. cenocepacia LPS strongly activates human TLR4/MD-2 despite its lipid A having only five acyl chains. Further, we show that aminoarabinose residues in lipid A contribute to TLR4-lipid A interactions, and experiments in a mouse model of LPS-induced endotoxic shock confirmed the pro- inflammatory potential of B. cenocepacia penta-acylated lipid A. Molecular modeling, combined with mutagenesis of TLR4-MD2 interactive surfaces, suggests that longer acyl chains and the aminoarabinose residues in the B. cenocepacia lipid A allow exposure of the fifth acyl chain on the surface of MD-2 enabling interactions with TLR4 and its dimerization. Our results provide a molecular model for activation of the human TLR4/MD- 2 complex by penta-acylated lipid A, explaining the ability of hypoacylated B. cenocepacia LPS to promote pro- inflammatory responses associated to the severe pathogenicity of this opportunistic bacterium.
- cystic fibrosis
- lipid A