Transcriptional profiling of Toll-like receptor 2-deficient primary murine brain cells during <i>Toxoplasma gondii</i> infection

<div><p>Background</p><p><i>Toxoplasma gondii</i> is capable of persisting in the brain, although it is efficiently eliminated by cellular immune responses in most other sites. While Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) reportedly plays important roles in protective immunity against the parasite, the relationship between neurological disorders induced by <i>T</i>. <i>gondii</i> infection and TLR2 function in the brain remains controversial with many unknowns. In this study, primary cultured astrocytes, microglia, neurons, and peritoneal macrophages obtained from wild-type and TLR2-deficient mice were exposed to <i>T</i>. <i>gondii</i> tachyzoites. To characterize TLR2-dependent functional pathways activated in response to <i>T</i>. <i>gondii</i> infection, gene expression of different cell types was profiled by RNA sequencing.</p><p>Results</p><p>During <i>T</i>. <i>gondii</i> infection, a total of 611, 777, 385, and 1105 genes were upregulated in astrocytes, microglia, neurons, and macrophages, respectively, while 163, 1207, 158, and 1274 genes were downregulated, respectively, in a TLR2-dependent manner. Overrepresented Gene Ontology (GO) terms for TLR2-dependently upregulated genes were associated with immune and stress responses in astrocytes, immune responses and developmental processes in microglia, metabolic processes and immune responses in neurons, and metabolic processes and gene expression in macrophages. Overrepresented GO terms for downregulated genes included ion transport and behavior in astrocytes, cell cycle and cell division in microglia, metabolic processes in neurons, and response to stimulus, signaling and cell motility in macrophages.</p><p>Conclusions</p><p>To our knowledge, this is the first transcriptomic study of TLR2 function across different cell types during <i>T</i>. <i>gondii</i> infection. Results of RNA-sequencing demonstrated roles for TLR2 varied by cell type during <i>T</i>. <i>gondii</i> infection. Our findings facilitate understanding of the detailed relationship between TLR2 and <i>T</i>. <i>gondii</i> infection, and elucidate mechanisms underlying neurological changes during infection.</p></div>