Toll-like receptors (TLRs) recognize pathogen-associated products, such as components of the bacterial cell wall, and activate macrophages and other innate immune cells through a signaling cascade involving serine/threonine kinases of the IRAK family. Richard Flavell and co-workers from Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut report in 26 July Cell that at least one member of the IRAK family, IRAK-M, is a negative regulator of TLR signaling (Cell 2002, 110:191-202). They suggest IRAK-M controls a balance between the innate immune response and excessive production of cytokines, which can be potentially harmful to the host.

Kobayashi et al. show that lack of IRAK-M causes increased production of inflammatory cytokines, including interleukin-6 and tumor-necrosis factor α, and an enhanced inflammatory response in the gut of IRAK-M-/- mice infected with the Gram-negative pathogen Salmonella typhimurium. IRAK-M-/- macrophages did not develop endotoxin tolerance to the bacterial lipopolysaccharide, a...

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