TLR3 signaling in a hepatoma cell line is skewed towards apoptosis

Elina Khvalevsky, Ludmila Rivkin, Jacob Rachmilewitz, Eithan Galun, Hilla Giladi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Toll-like receptors (TLRs) recognize pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPS) leading to the activation of the innate immune response and subsequently to the shaping of the adaptive immune response. Of the known human TLRs, TLR3, 7, 8, and 9 were shown to recognize nucleic acid ligands. TLR3 signaling is induced by double-stranded (ds)RNA, a molecular signature of viruses, and is mediated by the TRIP (TIR domain-containing adaptor-inducing IFNβ) adaptor molecule. Thus, TLR3 plays an important role in the host response to viral infections. The liver is constantly exposed to a large variety of foreign substances, including pathogens such as HBV (hepatitis B virus) and HCV (hepatitis C virus), which frequently establish persistent liver infections. In this work, we investigated the expression and signaling pathway of TLR3 in different hepatoma cell lines. We show that hepatocyte lineage cells express relatively low levels of TLR3 mRNA. TLR3 signaling in HEK293 cells (human embryonic kidney cells) activated NF-κB and IRF3 (interferon regulatory factor 3) and induced IFNβ (interferon β) promoter expression, which are known to lead to pro-inflammatory cytokine secretion. In Huh7 cells, there was only a short-term IRF3 activation, and a very low level of IFNβ expression. In HepG2 cells on the other hand, while no induction of pro-inflammatory factors was observed, signaling by TLR3 was skewed towards the induction of apoptosis. These results indicate preferential induction of the apoptotic pathway over the cytokine induction pathway by TLR3 signaling in hepatocellular carcinoma cells with potential implications for therapeutic strategies.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1301-1312
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cellular Biochemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • IRF3
  • NF-κB
  • Rip1
  • TRIF


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