Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2012

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Weiss, Jerrold

First Committee Member

Nauseef, William

Second Committee Member

Bishop, Gail

Third Committee Member

Houtman, Jon

Fourth Committee Member

McCray, Paul


Endotoxins (E) are a unique and abundant family of glycolipids located in the outer leaflet of the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria. Host immune responses to endotoxin depend on ordered endotoxin-host protein interactions, resulting in delivery of an endotoxin monomer to MD-2 which acts as a potent agonist of Toll-Like Receptor (TLR) 4. Activated TLR4 is unique among TLRs in its ability to mobilize two distinct intracellular signaling pathways: the MyD88- and TRIF-dependent pathways. The regulated action of both pathways is likely important for optimal host immune responses to Gram-negative bacterial infection, but how this is achieved is not well understood Recent studies have indicated an essential role for host CD14 in TRIF-dependent signaling by activated TLR4 but the extent to which these observations reflect a general role of CD14 in endotoxin-triggered TRIF signaling or one more narrowly restricted to the specific endotoxins and/or cell types used is uncertain. We have addressed this question by identifying a novel CD14-independent mechanism for efficient delivery of E monomer to MD-2 and TLR4 activation, that is mediated by endotoxin.albumin complexes. We have used these complexes to demonstrate CD14-independent activation of MD-2⋅TLR4 by a wider range of endotoxin species than previously thought possible and activation of both MyD88- and TRIF-dependent pathways. Taken together, the findings in this thesis indicate that the molecular structure and physical presentation of endotoxin as well as CD14-independent properties of the host cell help determine the extent to which CD14 is required for TRIF-dependent signaling by activated TLR4.


CD14, Endotoxin, LPS, MyD88, TLR4, TRIF


2, xiii, 140 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 120-140).


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Copyright © 2011 Greg A. Esparza