Toll-like receptors (TLRs) play essential roles in the activation of innate immune responses against microbial infections. TLRs and downstream adaptor molecules contain a conserved cytoplasmic TIR domain. TIRAP is a TIR domain-containing adaptor protein that recruits the signaling adaptor MyD88 to a subset of TLRs. Many pathogenic microorganisms subvert TLR signaling pathways to suppress host immune responses to benefit their survival and persistence. Brucella encodes a TIR domain-containing protein (TcpB) that inhibits TLR2- and TLR4-mediated NF-κB activation. Sequence analysis indicated a moderate level of similarity between TcpB and the TLR adaptor molecule TIRAP. We found that TcpB could efficiently block TIRAP-induced NF-κB activation. Subsequent studies revealed that by analogy to TIRAP, TcpB interacts with phosphoinositides through its N-terminal domain and colocalizes with the plasma membrane and components of the cytoskeleton. Our findings suggest that TcpB targets the TIRAP-mediated pathway to subvert TLR signaling. In vivo mouse studies indicated that TcpB-deficient Brucella is defective in systemic spread at the early stages of infection
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