Mycobacterium abscessus (Mab) is an emerging and rapidly growing non-tuberculous mycobacterium (NTM). Compared with M. tuberculosis, which is responsible for tuberculosis, much less is known about NTM-induced innate immune mechanisms. Here we investigated the involvement of pattern-recognition receptors and associated signalling in Mab-mediated innate immune responses. Mab activated the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)1/2 and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), and induced the secretion of tumour necrosis factor-α, interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-12p40 in murine macrophages via Toll-like receptor (TLR) 2. Notably, the activation of ERK1/2, but not p38, was crucial for Mab-induced pro-inflammatory cytokine production. The ITAM-like motif of dectin-1 critically contributed to Mab internalization and cytokine secretion by macrophages. In addition, dectin-1, in cooperation with TLR2, was required for the efficient phagocytosis of Mab, ERK1/2 activation and pro-inflammatory cytokine secretion. Co-immunoprecipitation and confocal analysis showed the physical interaction and colocalization of dectin-1 with TLR2 following Mab stimulation. Moreover, dectin-1-induced Syk activation was essential for the production of inflammatory cytokines and the release of reactive oxygen species by Mab-infected macrophages. Collectively, these data demonstrate that Mab actively internalizes into and robustly activates innate immune responses in macrophages through a physical and functional interaction between TLR2 and dectin-1.
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