A systems biology approach to the analysis of subset-specific responses to lipopolysaccharide in dendritic cells

David G. Hancock, Elena Shklovskaya, Thomas V. Guy, Reza Falsafi, Chris D. Fjell, William Ritchie, Robert E.W. Hancock, Barbara Fazekas De St Groth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Dendritic cells (DCs) are critical for regulating CD4 and CD8 T cell immunity, controlling Th1, Th2, and Th17 commitment, generating inducible Tregs, and mediating tolerance. It is believed that distinct DC subsets have evolved to control these different immune outcomes. However, how DC subsets mount different responses to inflammatory and/or tolerogenic signals in order to accomplish their divergent functions remains unclear. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) provides an excellent model for investigating responses in closely related splenic DC subsets, as all subsets express the LPS receptor TLR4 and respond to LPS in vitro. However, previous studies of the LPS-induced DC transcriptome have been performed only on mixed DC populations. Moreover, comparisons of the in vivo response of two closely related DC subsets to LPS stimulation have not been reported in the literature to date. We compared the transcriptomes of murine splenic CD8 and CD11b DC subsets after in vivo LPS stimulation, using RNA-Seq and systems biology approaches. We identified subset-specific gene signatures, which included multiple functional immune mediators unique to each subset. To explain the observed subset-specific differences, we used a network analysis approach. While both DC subsets used a conserved set of transcription factors and major signalling pathways, the subsets showed differential regulation of sets of genes that 'fine-tune' the network Hubs expressed in common. We propose a model in which signalling through common pathway components is 'fine-tuned' by transcriptional control of subset-specific modulators, thus allowing for distinct functional outcomes in closely related DC subsets. We extend this analysis to comparable datasets from the literature and confirm that our model can account for cell subset-specific responses to LPS stimulation in multiple subpopulations in mouse and man.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere100613
JournalPLoS One
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2014
Externally publishedYes


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