Toll-like receptor 5 (TLR5) recognition of flagellin instigates inflammatory signalling. Significant sequence variation in TLR5 exists between animal species but its impact on activity is less well understood. Building on our previous research that bovine TLR5 (bTLR5) is functional, we compared human and bovine TLR5 activity and signalling in cognate cell lines. bTLR5 induced higher levels of CXCL8 when expressed in bovine cells and reciprocal results were found for human TLR5 (hTLR5) in human cells, indicative of host cell specificity in this response. Analysis of Toll/interleukin-1 receptor (TIR) sequences indicated that these differential responses involve cognate MyD88 recognition. siRNA knockdowns and inhibitor experiments demonstrated that there are some host differences in signalling. Although, PI3K activation is required for bTLR5 signalling, mutating bTLR5 F798 to hTLR5 Y798 within a putative PI3K motif resulted in a significantly reduced response. All ruminants have F798 in contrast to most other species, suggesting that TLR5 signalling has evolved differently in ruminants. Evolutionary divergence between bovine and human TLR5 was also apparent in relation to responses measured to diverse bacterial flagellins. Our results underscore the importance of species specific studies and how differences may alter efficacy of TLR-based vaccine adjuvants.
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