Researchers from Philipp Henneke’s group have recently published a new article in The Journal of Immunology. Congratulations!

Feuerstein, R., Gres, V., Elias Perdigó, N., Baasch, S., Freudenhammer, M., Elling, R.,  & Henneke, P. (2019) Macrophages are a potent source of Streptococcus-induced IFN-ß. Journal of Immunology, 203(12), 3416-3426. DOI:


IFN-β essentially modulates the host response against mucocutaneous colonizers and potential pathogens, such as group B Streptococcus (GBS). It has been reported that the dominant signaling cascade driving IFN-β in macrophages (MΦ) in streptococcal infection is the cGAS-STING pathway, whereas conventional dendritic cells (DC) exploit endosomal recognition by intracellular TLRs. In this study, we revisited this issue by precisely monitoring the phenotypic dynamics in mixed mouse MΦ/DC cultures with GM-CSF, which requires snapshot definition of cellular identities. We identified four mononuclear phagocyte populations, of which two were transcriptionally and morphologically distinct MΦ-DC-like subsets, and two were transitional types. Notably, GBS induced a TLR7-dependent IFN-β signal only in MΦ-like but not in DC-like cells. IFN-β induction did not require live bacteria (i.e., the formation of cytolytic toxins), which are essential for IFN-β induction via cGAS-STING. In contrast to IFN-β, GBS induced TNF-α independently of TLR7. Subsequent to the interaction with streptococci, MΦ changed their immunophenotype and gained some typical DC markers and DC-like morphology. In summary, we identify IFN-β formation as part of the antistreptococcal repertoire of GM-CSF differentiated MΦ in vitro and in vivo and delineate their plasticity.