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Multinucleated giant cells, formed by fusion of macrophages, are a hallmark of granulomatous inflammation. With a genetic approach, we show that signaling through the adaptor protein DAP12 (DNAX activating protein of 12 kD), its associated receptor triggering receptor expressed by myeloid cells 2 (TREM-2), and the downstream protein tyrosine kinase Syk is required for the cytokine-induced formation of giant cells and that overexpression of DAP12 potentiates macrophage fusion. We also present evidence that DAP12 is a general macrophage fusion regulator and is involved in modulating the expression of several macrophage-associated genes, including those encoding known mediators of macrophage fusion, such as DC-STAMP and Cadherin 1. Thus, DAP12 is involved in programming of macrophages through the regulation of gene and protein expression to induce a fusion-competent state.

Original publication




Journal article


Science signaling

Publication Date





Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.


Macrophages, Animals, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Mice, Inflammation, Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins, Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing, Membrane Glycoproteins, Receptors, Immunologic, Cytokines, Cell Fusion, Signal Transduction, Gene Expression Regulation, Protein-Tyrosine Kinases, Syk Kinase