CpG-mediated changes in gene expression in murine spleen cells identified by microarray analysis

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Unmethylated CpG motifs interact with Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9), triggering an innate immune response characterized by the production of cytokines, chemokines and immunoglobulins. Microarray analysis of cDNA from murine spleen cells stimulated with CpG oligodeoxynucleotides (ODN) identified reproducible changes in gene expression over time. Eight genes are significantly up-regulated 2 h post CpG ODN stimulation, most of which contribute to the induction of innate or adaptive immune responses. Network analysis indicates that TNF and NFKB1 are key regulators of gene expression at this early time point. At 4 h, IL1B in addition to TNF and NFKB1 play dominant roles in the up-regulation of immune gene expression, whereas by 8 h this function is mediated by TNF, IFNG, and MYC. Genes responsible for down-regulating CpG-induced responses were also identified, dampening what would otherwise be a continuous positive feedback loop. This work provides novel insights into the regulatory process embedded in the gene expression profile induced by CpG ODN, identifies novel genes associated with CpG-induced immune stimulation, and clarifies the breadth of the immune response elicited via TLR9.

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