The discovery of molecular sensors that enable eukaryotes to recognize microbial pathogens and their products has been a key advance in our understanding of innate immunity. A tripartite sensing apparatus has developed to detect danger signals from infectious agents and damaged tissues, resulting in an immediate but short-lived defense response. This apparatus includes Toll-like receptors, retinoid acid-inducible gene-I-like receptors and other cytosolic nucleic acid sensors, and nucleotide-binding and oligomerization domain-like receptors; adaptors, kinases and other signaling molecules are required to elicit effective responses. Although this sensing is beneficial to the host, excessive activation and/or engagement by self molecules might induce autoimmune and other inflammatory disorders.
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