Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) expression is increased on hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) of patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), and enhanced TLR2 signaling is thought to contribute to MDS pathogenesis. Notably, TLR2 heterodimerizes with TLR1 or TLR6, and while high TLR2 is associated with lower-risk disease, high TLR6, but not TLR1, correlates with higher-risk disease. This raises the possibility of heterodimer-specific effects of TLR2 signaling in MDS, and in the work described here, we tested the effects of specific modulation of TLR1/2 versus TLR2/6 signaling on premalignant HSPCs. Indeed, chronic stimulation of TLR2/6, but not TLR1/2, accelerates leukemic transformation in the NHD13 mouse model of MDS, and conversely, loss of TLR6, but not TLR1, slows this process. TLR2/6 stimulation expands premalignant HSPCs, and chimeric mouse studies revealed that cell-autonomous signaling contributes to this expansion. Finally, TLR2/6 stimulation is associated with an enrichment of Myc and mTORC1 activities. While Myc inhibition partially suppressed the TLR2/6 agonist-mediated expansion of premalignant HSPCs, inhibition of mTORC1 exacerbated it, suggesting that these pathways play opposite roles in regulating the effects of TLR2/6 ligation on HSPCs. Together, these data reveal heterodimer-specific effects of TLR2 signaling on premalignant HSPCs, with TLR2/6 signaling promoting their expansion and leukemic transformation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-55
Number of pages14
JournalExperimental Hematology
StatePublished - Aug 2020


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