Lipopolysaccharide (LPS), commonly known as endotoxin, is ubiquitous and the most-studied pathogen-associated molecular pattern. A component of Gram-negative bacteria, extracellular LPS is sensed by our immune system via the toll-like receptor (TLR)-4. Given that TLR4 is membrane bound, it recognizes LPS in the extracellular milieu or within endosomes. Whether additional sensors, if any, play a role in LPS recognition within the cytoplasm remained unknown until recently. The last decade has seen an unprecedented unfolding of TLR4-independent LPS sensing pathways. First, transient receptor potential (TRP) channels have been identified as non-TLR membrane-bound sensors of LPS and, second, caspase-4/5 (and caspase-11 in mice) have been established as the cytoplasmic sensors for LPS. Here in this review, we detail the brief history of LPS discovery, followed by the discovery of TLR4, TRP as the membrane-bound sensor, and our current understanding of caspase-4/5/11 as cytoplasmic sensors.
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