Toll-like receptors (TLR) are crucial components in the initiation of innate immune responses to a variety of pathogens, triggering the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and type I and II interferons, which are responsible for innate antiviral responses. Among the different TLRs, TLR7 recognizes several single-stranded RNA viruses including SARS-CoV-2. We and others identified rare loss-of-function variants in X-chromosomal TLR7 in young men with severe COVID-19 and with no prior history of major chronic diseases, that were associated with impaired TLR7 signaling as well as type I and II IFN responses. Here, we performed RNA sequencing to investigate transcriptome variations following imiquimod stimulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells isolated from patients carrying previously identified hypomorphic, hypofunctional, and loss-of-function TLR7 variants. Our investigation revealed a profound impairment of the TLR7 pathway in patients carrying loss-of-function variants. Of note, a failure in IFNγ upregulation following stimulation was also observed in cells harboring the hypofunctional and hypomorphic variants. We also identified new TLR7 variants in severely affected male patients for which a functional characterization of the TLR7 pathway was performed demonstrating a decrease in mRNA levels in the IFNα, IFNγ, RSAD2, ACOD1, IFIT2, and CXCL10 genes.
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