Host genetics of Bordetella pertussis infection in mice: Significance of Toll-like receptor 4 in genetic susceptibility and pathobiology

H. A. Banus, R. J. Vandebriel, H. De Ruiter, J. A.M.A. Dormans, N. J. Nagelkerke, F. R. Mooi, B. Hoebee, H. J. Van Kranen, T. G. Kimman

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37 Citations (Scopus)


The susceptibility to and the severity of Bordetella pertussis infections in infants and children varies widely, suggesting that genetic differences between individuals influence the course of infection. We have previously identified three novel loci that influence the severity of whooping cough by using recombinant congenic strains of mice: Bordetella pertussis susceptibility loci 1, 2, and 3 (Bps1, -2, and -3). Because these loci could not account for all genetic differences between mice, we extended our search for additional susceptibility loci. We therefore screened 11 inbred strains of mice for susceptibility to a pertussis infection after intranasal infection. Susceptibility was defined by the number of bacteria in the lungs, being indicative of the effect between the clearance and replication of bacteria. The most resistant (A/J) and the most susceptible (C3H/HeJ) strains were selected for further genetic and phenotypic characterization. The link between bacterial clearance and chromosomal location was investigated with 300 F2 mice, generated by crossing A/J and C3H/HeJ mice. We found a link between the delayed clearance of bacteria from the lung and a large part of chromosome 4 in F 2 mice with a maximum log of the odds score of 33.6 at 65.4 Mb, which is the location of Tlr4. C3H/HeJ mice carry a functional mutation in the intracellular domain of Tlr4. This locus accounted for all detectable genetic differences between these strains. Compared to A/J mice, C3H/HeJ mice showed a delayed clearance of bacteria from the lung, a higher relative lung weight, and increased body weight loss. Splenocytes from infected C3H/HeJ mice produced almost no interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) upon ex vivo restimulation with B. pertussis compared to A/J mice and also showed a delayed gamma interferon (IFN-γ) production. TNF-α expression in the lungs 3 days after infection was increased fivefold compared to uninfected controls in A/J mice and was not affected in C3H/HeJ mice. In conclusion, Tlr4 is a major host factor explaining the differences in the course of infection between these inbred strains of mice. Functional Tlr4 is essential for an efficient IL-1-β, TNF-α, and IFN-γ response; efficient clearance of bacteria from the lung; and reduced lung pathology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2596-2605
Number of pages10
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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