Two cosegregating single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in human TLR4, an A896G transition at SNP rs4986790 (D299G) and a C1196T transition at SNP rs4986791 (T399I), have been associated with LPS hyporesponsiveness and differential susceptibility to many infectious or inflammatory diseases. However, many studies failed to confirm these associations, and transfection experiments resulted in conflicting conclusions about the impact of these SNPs on TLR4 signaling. Using advanced protein modeling from crystallographic data of human and murine TLR4, we identified homologous substitutions of these SNPs in murine Tlr4, engineered a knock-in strain expressing the D298G and N397I TLR4 SNPs homozygously, and characterized in vivo and in vitro responses to TLR4 ligands and infections in which TLR4 is implicated. Our data provide new insights into cellular and molecular mechanisms by which these SNPs decrease the TLR4 signaling efficiency and offer an experimental approach to confirm or refute human data possibly confounded by variables unrelated to the direct effects of the SNPs on TLR4 functionality.

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