Mouse TLR4 Reporter HEK293 Cells (NF-κB)

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HEK-Blue™ mTLR4 cells

Murine TLR4 expressing HEK293 reporter cells (NF-κB pathway)

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3-7 x 10e6 cells


Notification:  This product is for internal research use only. Additional rights may be available. Please visit InvivoGen’s Terms and Conditions.

NF-κB–SEAP reporter HEK293 cells expressing murine TLR4

Signaling pathways in HEK-Blue™ mTLR4 cells
Signaling pathways in HEK-Blue™ mTLR4 cells

HEK-Blue™ mTLR4 cells were engineered from the human embryonic kidney HEK293 cell line to study the mouse Toll-like receptor 4 (mTLR4) upon stimulation with lipopolysaccharide (LPS). LPS is a major constituent of the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria and the main microbial mediator implicated in the pathogenesis of sepsis and septic shock [1].

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HEK-Blue™ mTLR4 cells feature the stable expression of mouse TLR4, as well as the adapter proteins MD2 (myeloid differentiation factor 2) and CD14 (cluster of differentiation 14). These cells also express an inducible reporter gene for SEAP (secreted embryonic alkaline phosphatase). SEAP levels produced upon TLR4 stimulation can be readily determined by performing the assay in HEK-Blue™ Detection, a cell culture medium that allows for real-time detection of SEAP. Alternatively, SEAP activity may be monitored using QUANTI-Blue™, a SEAP detection reagent.

HEK-Blue™ mTLR4 cells are highly responsive to both types of LPS, smooth and rough, when compared to their parental cell line HEK-Blue™ Null1-v (see figures)

Of note, HEK293 cells express endogenous levels of various human PRRs, including TLR3, TLR5, and RIG-I-like receptors, and therefore might respond to their cognate ligands (see figures)


Key features

  • Stable expression of mouse TLR4, MD2, and CD14
  • Increased and reproducible response to rough and smooth LPS
  • Distinct monitoring of TLR4-dependent NF-κB activation by assessing the SEAP activities


  • Detecting sample contamination with LPS
  • Defining the role of mouse TLR4 in LPS-induced signaling pathways 
  • Compare murine and human TLR4 responses when used in combination with HEK-Blue™ hTLR4 cells
  • Screening for TLR4 agonists or antagonists


1. Godowski, P., 2005. A smooth operator for LPS responses. Nat Immunol 6, 544–546.


Response of HEK-Blue™ mTLR4 cells to PRR agonists
Response of HEK-Blue™ mTLR4 cells to PRR agonists

HEK-Blue™ mTLR4 and HEK-Blue™ Null1-v cells (control cell line) were stimulated with various TLR and NOD agonists: Pam3CSK4 (TLR2 agonist; 100 ng/ml), Poly(I:C) (TLR3 agonist; 1 µg/ml), LPS-EB ultrapure (TLR4 agonist; 100 ng/ml), LPS-EB ultrapure (TLR4 agonist; 100 ng/ml), MPLA (TLR4 agonist; 100 ng/ml), FLA-ST (flagellin from S. typhimurium, a TLR5 agonist; 100 ng/ml), R848 (TLR7/8 agonist; 1 µg/ml), ODN 1826 (class B ODN; 10 µg/ml), Tri-DAP (NOD1 agonist; 1 µg/ml), MDP (NOD2 agonist; 1 µg/ml), and TNF-α (10 ng/ml). After a 24 hour-incubation, NF‑kB‑induced SEAP activity was assessed using HEK‑Blue™ Detection and reading the optical density (OD) at 655 nm. TNF-α has been included as a positive control. Non‑induced cells (NI) have been included as negative controls.

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Antibiotic resistance: Blasticidin, Hygromycin, Zeocin®

Growth medium: DMEM, 4.5 g/l glucose, 2 mM L-glutamine, 10% (v/v) fetal bovine serum, 100 U/ml penicillin, 100 μg/ml streptomycin, 100 μg/ml Normocin™

Quality Control:

  • Stable expression of mouse (m)TLR4, MD-2, and CD14 has been verified by RT-qPCR and functional assays.
  • The activation of NF-κB/AP1 upon TLR4 stimulation has been verified using functional assays.
  • The stability for 20 passages, following thawing, has been verified. 
  • These cells are guaranteed mycoplasma-free.

Note: HEK293 cells express endogenous levels of TLR3, TLR5, and NOD1.
The appropriate parental cell line for HEK-Blue™ mTLR4 cells is HEK-Blue™ Null1-v


All of these products are covered by a Limited Use License (See Terms and Conditions).

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Shipped on dry ice (Europe, USA, Canada and some areas in Asia)

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Toll-like receptor 4 signaling

The Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) was the first TLR identified and is an important pattern recognition receptor (PRR) in innate immunity and inflammation. It is found both on the cell surface and in endosomes of innate immune cells including monocytes and macrophages, as well as on intestinal epithelium and endothelial cells [1]. TLR4 can recognize pathogen- and damage-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs and DAMPs). However, it is primarily activated by lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and its toxic moiety Lipid A [2]. TLR4 does not directly interact with LPS, but requires essential adaptor proteins [3]. The soluble LPS-binding protein (LBP) extracts monomeric LPS from the microbial membrane and transfers it to CD14 (cluster of differentiation 14). This membrane-bound protein then interacts with MD-2 (myeloid differentiation factor 2), which is constitutively associated with the TLR4 ectodomain. The ligand-loaded MD-2 subsequently binds to another TLR4/MD-2/LPS complex, leading to their dimerization [4].  Interestingly, TLR4 is the only TLR able to trigger two distinct signaling cascades [5]:

  • the MyD88-dependent activating NF-κB pathway (at the cell surface) 
  • the TRIF-dependent activating IRF pathway (in endosomes) 

At the cell surface, activation of TLR4 initiates the TIRAP-MyD88-dependent pathway, ultimately leading to the activation of NF-κB and the production of a pro-inflammatory response. Also, the TLR4 complex can be endocytosed into endosomes in a CD14-mediated fashion. This results in the the stimulation of IRF3 (interferon regulatory factor), which modulates the expression of type I IFN [3].

TLR4 signaling is crucial in both acute and chronic inflammatory disorders and thus, is an attractive target for novel treatments [1]. Stimulating drugs are useful for the development of vaccine adjuvants or cancer immunotherapeutics, whereas TLR4-inhibition is a therapeutic approach to treat septic shock or autoimmune inflammatory pathologies such as atherosclerosis [5].


LPS structure


Rough vs smooth LPS

Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is a major constituent of the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria. It comprises three covalently linked regions:

  • the lipid A (endotoxin)
  • the rough core oligosaccharide
  • the O-antigenic side chain.


Wild-type LPS contains the O-side chain and is referred to as smooth (sLPS). Few bacterial strains (e.g. Salmonella Thyphimurium, Brucella canis) lost the O-side chain. This mutated form is called rough (rLPS). Both sLPS and rLPS share the same receptor complex (TLR4-MD-2-CD14), but their mechanism of action differs. While CD14 is necessary for sLPS NF-κB and IRF signaling, it is dispensible for rLPS NF-κB signaling. It has been hypothesized that rLPS activates a broader range of cells (CD14 positive, low and negative), accounting for higher toxicity [6]. 

Nevertheless, both LPS variations elicit potent innate immune responses. The resulting signaling triggers the release of pro‑inflammatory cytokines, which can lead to both acute and chronic inflammatory diseases. It is all about balance: small controlled amounts of LPS can be protective and large uncontrolled amounts can lead to disastrous outcomes, such as septic shock [7]. Despite its highly inflammatory nature, LPS has remarkable therapeutic potential and features many characteristics needed for an effective vaccine adjuvant [8]. 



1. Ou, T. et al. 2018. The Pathologic Role of Toll-Like Receptor 4 in Prostate Cancer. Front Immunol 9, 1188.
2. Cochet, F. et al. 2017. The Role of Carbohydrates in the Lipopolysaccharide (LPS)/Toll-Like Receptor 4 (TLR4) Signalling. Int J Mol Sci 18
3. Kuzmich, N.N. et al. 2017. TLR4 Signaling Pathway Modulators as Potential Therapeutics in Inflammation and Sepsis. Vaccines (Basel) 5.
4.Tanimura N. et al. 2014. The attenuated inflammation of MPL is due to the lack of CD14-dependent tight dimerization of the TLR4/MD2 complex at the plasma membrane. Int Immunol.(6):307-14.
5. Romerio A, Peri F. 2020. Increasing the Chemical Variety of Small-Molecule-Based TLR4 Modulators: An Overview. Front Immunol.;11:1210.
6. Zanoni I,.et al., 2012. Similarities and differences of innate immune responses elicited by smooth and rough LPS. Immunol Lett. 2012 Feb 29;142(1-2):41-7.
7. Godowski, P., 2005. A smooth operator for LPS responses. Nat Immunol 6, 544–546.
8. McAleer, J.P. & Vella, A.T., 2010.  Educating CD4 T cells with vaccine adjuvants: lessons from lipopolysaccharide. Trends Immunol 31, 429-435.

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