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Journal of Tropical Medicine
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 415057, 12 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/415057
Review Article

Genetic Diversity of Toll-Like Receptors and Immunity to M. leprae Infection

1Department of Microbiology, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801, USA
2College of Medicine, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801, USA

Received 26 August 2011; Accepted 2 December 2011

Academic Editor: Carlos E. P. Corbett

Copyright © 2012 Bryan E. Hart and Richard I. Tapping. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Genetic association studies of leprosy cohorts across the world have identified numerous polymorphisms which alter susceptibility and outcome to infection with Mycobacterium leprae. As expected, many of the polymorphisms reside within genes that encode components of the innate and adaptive immune system. Despite the preponderance of these studies, our understanding of the mechanisms that underlie these genetic associations remains sparse. Toll-like receptors (TLRs) have emerged as an essential family of innate immune pattern recognition receptors which play a pivotal role in host defense against microbes, including pathogenic strains of mycobacteria. This paper will highlight studies which have uncovered the association of specific TLR gene polymorphisms with leprosy or tuberculosis: two important diseases resulting from mycobacterial infection. This analysis will focus on the potential influence these polymorphic variants have on TLR expression and function and how altered TLR recognition or signaling may contribute to successful antimycobacterial immunity.