Regulation of TLR4 signaling through the TRAF6/sNASP axis by reversible phosphorylation mediated by CK2 and PP4

Feng-Ming Yang, Hui-Ming Chang, Edward T H Yeh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Recognition of invading pathogens by Toll-like receptors (TLRs) activates innate immunity through signaling pathways that involved multiple protein kinases and phosphatases. We previously demonstrated that somatic nuclear autoantigenic sperm protein (sNASP) binds to TNF receptor-associated factor 6 (TRAF6) in the resting state. Upon TLR4 activation, a signaling complex consisting of TRAF6, sNASP, interleukin (IL)-1 receptor-associated kinase 4, and casein kinase 2 (CK2) is formed. CK2 then phosphorylates sNASP to release phospho-sNASP (p-sNASP) from TRAF6, initiating downstream signaling pathways. Here, we showed that protein phosphatase 4 (PP4) is the specific sNASP phosphatase that negatively regulates TLR4-induced TRAF6 activation and its downstream signaling pathway. Mechanistically, PP4 is directly recruited by phosphorylated sNASP to dephosphorylate p-sNASP to terminate TRAF6 activation. Ectopic expression of PP4 specifically inhibited sNASP-dependent proinflammatory cytokine production and downstream signaling following bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) treatment, whereas silencing PP4 had the opposite effect. Primary macrophages and mice infected with recombinant adenovirus carrying a gene encoding PP4 (Ad-PP4) showed significant reduction in IL-6 and TNF-α production. Survival of Ad-PP4-infected mice was markedly increased due to a better ability to clear bacteria in a sepsis model. These results indicate that the serine/threonine phosphatase PP4 functions as a negative regulator of innate immunity by regulating the binding of sNASP to TRAF6.

Original languageEnglish
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number47
Publication statusPublished - Nov 23 2021


  • Animals
  • Autoantigens/genetics
  • Casein Kinase II/genetics
  • Cell Cycle Proteins/genetics
  • Chemokines/metabolism
  • Cytokines
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Lipopolysaccharides/pharmacology
  • Macrophages/metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Phosphoprotein Phosphatases/genetics
  • Phosphorylation
  • Signal Transduction/drug effects
  • TNF Receptor-Associated Factor 6/genetics
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4/genetics
  • Toll-Like Receptors/metabolism


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