Obesity is associated with the development of asthma and considerable asthma-related healthcare utilization. To understand the immunological pathways that lead to obesity-associated asthma, we fed mice a high fat diet for 12 weeks, which resulted in obesity and the development of airway hyperreactivity (AHR), a cardinal feature of asthma. This AHR depended on innate immunity, since it occurred in obese Rag−/− mice, and on IL-17A and the NLRP3 inflammasome, since it did not develop in obese Il17−/− or Nlrp3−/− mice. The AHR was also associated with the presence in the lungs of CCR6+ innate lymphoid cells producing IL-17A (ILC3 cells), which could by themselves mediate AHR when adoptively transferred into Rag2−/−
Il2rγ−/− mice. IL-1β played an important role by expanding the ILC3 cells, and treatment to block the function of IL-1β abolished obesity-induced AHR. Since we found ILC3-like cells in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid of human patients with asthma, we suggest that obesity-associated asthma is facilitated by inflammation mediated by NLRP3, IL-1β and ILC3 cells.
airway hyperreactivity; asthma; obesity; innate lymphoid cells; IL-17; NLRP3; ILC3
Vascular disrupting agents (VDAs) such as DMXAA (5,6-dimethylxanthenone-4-acetic acid) represent a novel approach for cancer treatment. DMXAA has potent anti-tumor activity in mice and, despite significant pre-clinical promise, failed human clinical trials. The anti-tumor activity of DMXAA has been linked to its ability to induce type I interferons in macrophages although the molecular mechanisms involved are poorly understood. Here we identify STING as a direct receptor for DMXAA leading to TBK1 and IRF3 signaling. Remarkably, the ability to sense DMXAA was restricted to murine STING. Human STING failed to bind to or signal in response to DMXAA. Human STING also failed to signal in response to cyclic-dinucleotides, conserved bacterial second messengers known to bind and activate murine STING signaling. Collectively, these findings detail an unexpected species-specific role for STING as a receptor for an anti-cancer drug and uncover important insights that may explain the failure of DMXAA in clinical trials for human cancer.
Nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain-like receptors (NLRs) detect pathogens and danger-associated signals within the cell. Salmonella Typhimurium, an intracellular pathogen, activates caspase-1 required for the processing of the pro-inflammatory cytokines, pro-IL-1β and pro-IL-18, and pyroptosis. Here we show that Salmonella infection induces the formation of an ASC–Caspase-8–Caspase-1 inflammasome in macrophages. Caspase-8 and caspase-1 are recruited to the ASC focus independently of one other. Salmonella infection initiates caspase-8 proteolysis in a manner dependent on NLRC4 and ASC, but not NLRP3, caspase-1 or caspase-11. Caspase-8 primarily mediates the synthesis of pro-IL-1β, but is dispensable for Salmonella-induced cell death. Overall, our findings highlight that the ASC inflammasome can recruit different members of the caspase family to induce distinct effector functions in response to Salmonella infection.
The innate immune system is important for control of infections, including herpesvirus infections. Intracellular DNA potently stimulates antiviral IFN responses. It is known that plasmacytoid dendritic cells sense herpesvirus DNA in endosomes via TLR9, and that non-immune tissue cells can sense herpesvirus DNA in the nucleus. However, it remains unknown how and where myeloid cells, like macrophages and conventional dendritic cells, detect infections with herpesviruses. Here we demonstrate that the HSV-1 capsid was ubiquitinated in the cytosol and degraded by the proteasome, hence releasing genomic DNA into the cytoplasm for detection by DNA sensors. In this context, the DNA sensor IFI16 is important for induction of IFN-β in human macrophages after infection with HSV-1 and CMV. Viral DNA localized to the same cytoplasmic regions as IFI16, with DNA sensing being independent of viral nuclear entry. Thus, proteasomal degradation of herpesvirus capsids releases DNA to the cytoplasm for recognition by DNA sensors.
Recognition of microbial nucleic acids is one strategy by which mammalian hosts respond to infectious agents. Intracellular DNA which is introduced into cells during infection elicits potent inflammatory responses by triggering the induction of antiviral type I interferons and the maturation and secretion of inflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα), interleukin (IL)-1β and IL-18. In addition, if nucleases such as DNase II or DNase III (Trex1) fail to clear self-DNA accumulated DNA gains access to intracellular compartments where it drives inflammatory responses leading to autoimmune disease. In this review, we discuss a rapidly evolving view of how cytosolic DNA sensing machineries coordinate antimicrobial immunity and if unchecked lead to autoimmune disease.
Great progress has been made in understanding how immune cells detect microbial pathogens. An area that has received particular attention is nucleic acid sensing where RNA and DNA sensing machineries have been uncovered. For DNA, TLR9 in endosomes and numerous cytoplasmic DNA binding proteins have been identified. Several of these have been proposed to couple DNA recognition to induction of type I IFNs, pro-inflammatory cytokines and/or caspase-1 activation. Given the ubiquitous expression of many of these DNA binding proteins and the significant potential for endogenous DNA to engage these molecules, it is important that DNA recognition is tightly regulated. A better understanding of DNA recognition pathways can provide new insights into infectious, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
Particulate ligands including cholesterol crystals and amyloid fibrils induce NLRP3-dependent production of interleukin-1β (IL-1β) in atherosclerosis, Alzheimer's disease and diabetes. Soluble endogenous ligands including oxidized-LDL, amyloid-β and amylin peptides accumulate in these diseases. Here we identify a CD36-mediated endocytic pathway that coordinates the intracellular conversion of these soluble ligands to crystals or fibrils, resulting in lysosomal disruption and NLRP3-inflammasome activation. Consequently, macrophages lacking CD36 failed to elicit IL-1β production in response to these ligands and targeting CD36 in atherosclerotic mice reduced serum IL-1β and plaque cholesterol crystal accumulation. Collectively, these findings highlight the importance of CD36 in the accrual and nucleation of NLRP3 ligands from within the macrophage and position CD36 as a central regulator of inflammasome activation in sterile inflammation.
Cyclic paroxysm and high fever are hallmarks of malaria and are associated with high levels of pyrogenic cytokines, including IL-1β. In this report, we describe a signature for the expression of inflammasome-related genes and caspase-1 activation in malaria. Indeed, when we infected mice, Plasmodium infection was sufficient to promote MyD88-mediated caspase-1 activation, dependent on IFN-γ-priming and the expression of inflammasome components ASC, P2X7R, NLRP3 and/or NLRP12. Pro-IL-1β expression required a second stimulation with LPS and was also dependent on IFN-γ-priming and functional TNFR1. As a consequence of Plasmodium-induced caspase-1 activation, mice produced extremely high levels of IL-1β upon a second microbial stimulus, and became hypersensitive to septic shock. Therapeutic intervention with IL-1 receptor antagonist prevented bacterial-induced lethality in rodents. Similar to mice, we observed a significantly increased frequency of circulating CD14+CD16−Caspase-1+ and CD14dimCD16+Caspase-1+ monocytes in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from febrile malaria patients. These cells readily produced large amounts of IL-1β after stimulation with LPS. Furthermore, we observed the presence of inflammasome complexes in monocytes from malaria patients containing either NLRP3 or NLRP12 pyroptosomes. We conclude that NLRP12/NLRP3-dependent activation of caspase-1 is likely to be a key event in mediating systemic production of IL-1β and hypersensitivity to secondary bacterial infection during malaria.
Together Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax infect approximately 250 million individuals, reaping life of near one million children every year. Extensive research on malaria pathogenesis has funneled into the consensus that the clinical manifestations are often a consequence of the systemic inflammation. Importantly, secondary bacterial and viral infections potentiate this inflammatory reaction being important co-factors for the development of severe disease. One of the hallmarks of malaria syndrome is the paroxysm, which is characterized by high fever associated with peak of parasitemia. In this study we dissected the mechanisms of induction and the importance of the pyrogenic cytokine, IL-1β in the pathogenesis of malaria. Our results demonstrate the critical role of the innate immune receptors named Toll-Like Receptors and inflammasome on induction, processing and release of active form of IL-1β during malaria. Importantly, we provide evidences that bacterial superinfection further potentiates the Plasmodium-induced systemic inflammation, leading to the release of bulk amounts of IL-1β and severe disease. Hence, this study uncovers new checkpoints that could be targeted for preventing systemic inflammation and severe malaria.
Viral RNA is sensed by TLR 7 and 8 or by the RNA helicases LGP2, MDA5 and RIG-I to trigger antiviral responses. Much less is known about sensors for DNA. Here we identify a novel DNA sensing pathway involving RNA polymerase III and RIG-I. AT-rich dsDNA serve as a template for RNA polymerase III, which is transcribed into dsRNA harboring a 5′ triphosphate moiety which signals via RIG-I to activate type I IFN gene transcription and NF-κB. This pathway is also important in sensing Epstein-Barr virus encoded small RNAs, which are transcribed by RNA polymerase III and then trigger RIG-I activation. Thus, RNA Pol III and RIG-I play a pivotal role in coordinating anti-viral defenses in the innate immune response.
Most isolates of Toxoplasma from Europe and North America fall into one of three genetically distinct clonal lineages, the type I, II and III lineages. However, in South America these strains are rarely isolated and instead a great variety of other strains are found. T. gondii strains differ widely in a number of phenotypes in mice, such as virulence, persistence, oral infectivity, migratory capacity, induction of cytokine expression and modulation of host gene expression. The outcome of toxoplasmosis in patients is also variable and we hypothesize that, besides host and environmental factors, the genotype of the parasite strain plays a major role. The molecular basis for these differences in pathogenesis, especially in strains other than the clonal lineages, remains largely unexplored. Macrophages play an essential role in the early immune response against T. gondii and are also the cell type preferentially infected in vivo. To determine if non-canonical Toxoplasma strains have unique interactions with the host cell, we infected murine macrophages with 29 different Toxoplasma strains, representing global diversity, and used RNA-sequencing to determine host and parasite transcriptomes. We identified large differences between strains in the expression level of known parasite effectors and large chromosomal structural variation in some strains. We also identified novel strain-specifically regulated host pathways, including the regulation of the type I interferon response by some atypical strains. IFNβ production by infected cells was associated with parasite killing, independent of interferon gamma activation, and dependent on endosomal Toll-like receptors in macrophages and the cytoplasmic receptor retinoic acid-inducible gene 1 (RIG-I) in fibroblasts.
Toxoplasmosis is caused by the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii. The parasite is found throughout the world. When humans are infected, few have symptoms because a healthy immune system usually prevents the parasite from causing illness. Nevertheless, cases of severe disease in otherwise healthy individuals have been observed. These cases are usually a result of infection with less common atypical strains of Toxoplasma. Factors associated with virulence in the atypical strains are not well understood. Here, we infected host cells with 29 different strains of Toxoplasma, and performed high-throughput RNA sequencing of both host cells and parasites. We found significant differences in gene expression profiles between strains. Host cell transcriptional response also varied substantially depending on the infecting strain. Specifically, we found that a small group of atypical strains are able to induce production of type I interferons, which are immunomodulatory cytokines. Interferon production is a result of the elimination of internalized parasites through a novel killing mechanism. The dataset we generated is a valuable tool for identification of host cell targets of Toxoplasma secreted effectors and can contribute to our understanding of why certain Toxoplasma strains are more prone to cause severe disease in humans.
Fas, a tumor necrosis factor family receptor, is activated by the membrane protein Fas ligand (FasL) expressed on various immune cells. Fas signaling triggers apoptosis and induces inflammatory cytokine production. Among the Fas induced cytokines, the IL-1β family cytokines require proteolysis to gain biological activity. Inflammasomes, which respond to pathogens and danger signals, cleave IL-1β cytokines via caspase-1. The mechanisms, by which Fas regulates IL-1β activation, however, remain unresolved. Here, we demonstrate that macrophages exposed to TLR ligands upregulate Fas, which renders them responsive to receptor engagement by Fas ligand. Fas signaling activates caspase-8 in macrophages and dendritic cells leading to the maturation of IL-1β and IL-18 independently of inflammasomes or Rip3. Hence, Fas controls a novel non-canonical IL-1β activation pathway in myeloid cells, which could play an essential role in inflammatory processes, tumor surveillance and control of infectious diseases.
Prion diseases are fatal transmissible neurodegenerative diseases, characterized by aggregation of the pathological form of prion protein, spongiform degeneration, neuronal loss and activation of astrocytes and microglia. Microglia can clear prion plaques but on the other hand cause neuronal death via release of neurotoxic species. Elevated expression of the proinflammatory cytokine IL-1β has been observed in brains affected by several prion diseases and IL-1R-deficiency significantly prolonged the onset of the neurodegeneration in mice. We show that microglial cells stimulated by prion protein (PrP) fibrils induced neuronal toxicity. Microglia and macrophages release IL-1β upon stimulation by PrP fibrils, which depends on the NLRP3 inflammasome. Activation of NLRP3 inflammasome by PrP fibrils requires depletion of intracellular K+ and requires phagocytosis of PrP fibrils and consecutive lysosome destabilization. Among the well-defined molecular forms of PrP the strongest NLRP3 activation was observed by fibrils, followed by aggregates, while neither native monomeric nor oligomeric PrP were able to activate the NLRP3 inflammasome. Our results together with previous studies on IL-1R-deficient mice suggest the IL-1 signaling pathway as the perspective target for the therapy of prion disease.
prions; amyloid; inflammasome; NLRP3; IL-1β; neuroinflammation
Phagocytosis is a fundamental cellular process that is pivotal for immunity as it coordinates microbial killing, innate immune activation and antigen presentation. An essential step in this process is phagosome acidification, which regulates a number of functions of these organelles that allow them to participate in processes essential to both innate and adaptive immunity. Here we report that acidification of phagosomes containing Gram-positive bacteria is regulated by the NLRP3-inflammasome and caspase-1. Active caspase-1 accumulates on phagosomes and acts locally to control the pH by modulating buffering by the NADPH oxidase NOX2. These data provide insight into a mechanism by which innate immune signals can modify cellular defenses and establish a new function for the NLRP3-inflammasome and caspase-1 in host defense.
Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) is an emerging RNA virus with devastating economic and social consequences. Clinically, RVFV induces a gamut of symptoms ranging from febrile illness to retinitis, hepatic necrosis, hemorrhagic fever, and death. It is known that type I interferon (IFN) responses can be protective against severe pathology; however, it is unknown which innate immune receptor pathways are crucial for mounting this response. Using both in vitro assays and in vivo mucosal mouse challenge, we demonstrate here that RNA helicases are critical for IFN production by immune cells and that signaling through the helicase adaptor molecule MAVS (mitochondrial antiviral signaling) is protective against mortality and more subtle pathology during RVFV infection. In addition, we demonstrate that Toll-like-receptor-mediated signaling is not involved in IFN production, further emphasizing the importance of the RNA cellular helicases in type I IFN responses to RVFV.
Yersinia pestis, the causative agent of plague, is able to suppress production of inflammatory cytokines IL-18 and IL-1β, which are generated through caspase-1–activating nucleotide-binding domain and leucine-rich repeat (NLR)-containing inflammasomes. Here, we sought to elucidate the role of NLRs and IL-18 during plague. Lack of IL-18 signaling led to increased susceptibility to Y. pestis, producing tetra-acylated lipid A,and an attenuated strain producing a Y. pseudotuberculosis-like hexa-acylated lipid A. We found that the NLRP12 inflammasome was an important regulator controlling IL-18 and IL-1β production after Y. pestis infection, and NLRP12-deficient mice were more susceptible to bacterial challenge. NLRP12 also directed interferon-γ production via induction of IL-18, but had minimal effect on signaling to the transcription factor NF-κB._ These studies reveal a role for NLRP12 in host resistance against pathogens. Minimizing NLRP12 inflammasome activation may have been a central factor in evolution of the high virulence of Y. pestis.
Systemic infections with Gram-negative bacteria are characterized by high mortality rates due to the “sepsis syndrome,” a widespread and uncontrolled inflammatory response. Though it is well recognized that the immune response during Gram-negative bacterial infection is initiated after the recognition of endotoxin by Toll-like receptor 4, the molecular mechanisms underlying the detrimental inflammatory response during Gram-negative bacteremia remain poorly defined. Here, we identify a TRIF pathway that licenses NLRP3 inflammasome activation by all Gram-negative bacteria. By engaging TRIF, Gram-negative bacteria activate caspase-11. TRIF activates caspase-11 via type I IFN signaling, an event that is both necessary and sufficient for caspase-11 induction and autoactivation. Caspase-11 subsequently synergizes with the assembled NLRP3 inflammasome to regulate caspase-1 activation and leads to caspase-1-independent cell death. These events occur specifically during infection with Gram-negative, but not Gram-positive, bacteria. The identification of TRIF as a regulator of caspase-11 underscores the importance of TLRs as master regulators of inflammasomes during Gram-negative bacterial infection.
Type I interferon (IFN) is an important host defense cytokine against intracellular pathogens, mainly viruses. In assessing IFN production in response to group B streptococcus (GBS), we find that IFN-β was produced by macrophages upon stimulation with both heat-killed and live GBS. Exposure of macrophages to heat-killed GBS activated a Toll-like receptor (TLR)-dependent pathway, whereas live GBS activated a TLR/NOD/RIG-like receptor (RLR)-independent pathway. This latter pathway required bacterial phagocytosis, proteolytic bacterial degradation, and phagolysosomal membrane destruction by GBS pore-forming toxins, leading to the release of bacterial DNA into the cytosol. GBS DNA in the cytosol induced IFN-β production via a pathway dependent on the activation of the serine-threonine kinase TBK1 and phosphorylation of the transcription factor IRF3. Thus, activation of IFN-α/-β production during infection with GBS, commonly considered an extracellular pathogen, appears to result from the interaction of GBS DNA with a putative intracellular DNA sensor or receptor.
Interleukin-1 (IL-1) is an important mediator of innate immunity, but can also promote inflammatory tissue damage. During chronic infections, such as tuberculosis, the beneficial antimicrobial role of IL-1 must be balanced with the need to prevent immunopathology. By exogenously controlling the replication of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in vivo, we obviated the requirement for antimicrobial immunity and discovered that both IL-1 production and infection-induced immunopathology were suppressed by lymphocyte-derived interferon-γ (IFN-γ). This effect was mediated by nitric oxide (NO), which we found to specifically inhibit the assembly of the NLRP3 inflammasome via thiol nitrosylation. These data suggest that the NO produced as a result of adaptive immunity is indispensable in modulating the destructive innate inflammatory responses that are elicited during persistent infections.
Advances in innate immunity over the past decade have revealed distinct classes of pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) which operate to detect pathogens at the cell surface and in intracellular compartments. This has shed light on how herpesviruses, which are large disease-causing DNA viruses that replicate in the nucleus, are initially recognized during cellular infection. Surprisingly, this involves multiple PRRs both on the cell surface, and within endosomes and the cytosol. In this article we describe recent advances in our understanding of innate detection of herpesviruses, how this innate detection translates into anti-herpesvirus host defense, and how the viruses seek to evade this innate detection to establish persistent infections.
Recognition of DNA by the innate immune system is central to anti-viral and anti-bacterial defenses, as well as an important contributor to autoimmune diseases involving self DNA. AIM2 (absent in melanoma 2) and IFI16 (interferon-inducible protein 16) have been identified as DNA receptors that induce inflammasome formation and interferon production, respectively. Here we present the crystal structures of their HIN domains in complex with double-stranded (ds) DNA. Non-sequence specific DNA recognition is accomplished through electrostatic attraction between the positively charged HIN domain residues and the dsDNA sugar-phosphate backbone. An intramolecular complex of the AIM2 Pyrin and HIN domains in an autoinhibited state is liberated by DNA binding, which may facilitate the assembly of inflammasomes along the DNA staircase. These findings provide novel mechanistic insights into dsDNA as the activation trigger and oligomerization platform for the assembly of large innate signaling complexes such as the inflammasomes.
Type I interferons (IFNs), predominantly IFN-α and -β, play critical roles in both innate and adaptive immune responses against viral infections. Interferon regulatory factor 7 (IRF7), a key innate immune molecule in the type I IFN signaling pathway, is essential for the type I IFN response to many viruses, including lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV). Here, we show that although IRF7 knockout (KO) mice failed to control the replication of LCMV in the early stages of infection, they were capable of clearing LCMV infection. Despite the lack of type I IFN production, IRF7 KO mice generated normal CD4+ T cell responses, and the expansion of naïve CD8+ T cells into primary CD8+ T cells specific for LCMV GP33–41 was relatively normal. In contrast, the expansion of the LCMV NP396-specific CD8+ T cells was severely impaired in IRF7 KO mice. We demonstrated that this defective CD8+ T cell response is due neither to an impaired antigen-presenting system nor to any intrinsic role of IRF7 in CD8+ T cells. The lack of a type I IFN response in IRF7 KO mice did not affect the formation of memory CD8+ T cells. Thus, the present study provides new insight into the impact of the innate immune system on viral pathogenesis and demonstrates the critical contribution of innate immunity in controlling virus replication in the early stages of infection, which may shape the quality of CD8+ T cell responses.
Innate immune surveillance mechanisms lie at the heart of the antiviral response. A growing number of germ-line encoded pattern recognition receptors have been identified which protect the host from infection by sensing the presence of viral molecules and inducing antiviral defenses. Most compartments that viruses gain access to are under active surveillance by one or more pattern recognition receptors. Members of the Toll-like receptor family guard the extracellular milieu and endosomal compartment where they are activated by viral glycoproteins or nucleic acids, respectively. More recently, the cytosolic compartment has emerged as the frontline in the arsenal of the host’s antiviral defenses. Families of receptors in the cytosol recognize viral RNA or DNA or perturbations of cellular homeostasis and orchestrate effector responses to eliminate the invader. Here, we review this expanding area of innate immunity by focusing on the molecular mechanisms of cytosolic host-defenses.
We report that in the presence of signal 1 (NF-κB), the NLRP3 inflammasome was activated by mitochondrial apoptotic signaling that licensed production of interleukin-1β (IL-1β). NLRP3 secondary signal activators such as ATP induced mitochondrial dysfunction and apoptosis, resulting in release of oxidized mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) into the cytosol, where it bound to and activated the NLRP3 inflammasome. The anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-2 inversely regulated mitochondrial dysfunction and NLRP3 inflammasome activation. Mitochondrial DNA directly induced NLRP3 inflammasome activation, because macrophages lacking mtDNA had severely attenuated IL-1β production, yet still underwent apoptosis. Both binding of oxidized mtDNA to the NLRP3 inflammasome and IL-1β secretion could be competitively inhibited by the oxidized nucleoside, 8-OH-dG. Thus, our data reveal that oxidized mtDNA released during programmed cell death causes activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome. These results provide a missing link between apoptosis and inflammasome activation, via binding of cytosolic oxidized mtDNA to the NLRP3 inflammasome.
The innate immune system senses infection by detecting evolutionarily conserved molecules essential for microbial survival or abnormal location of molecules. Here we demonstrate the existence of a novel innate detection mechanism, which is induced by fusion between viral envelopes and target cells. Virus-cell fusion specifically stimulated a type I interferon (IFN) response with expression of IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs), in vivo recruitment of leukocytes, and potentiation of Toll-like receptor 7 and 9 signaling. The fusion dependent response was dependent on stimulator of interferon genes (STING) but independent of DNA, RNA and viral capsid. We suggest that membrane fusion is sensed as a danger signal with potential implications for defense against enveloped viruses and various conditions of giant cell formation.
Virus; Fusion; type I IFN; STING
Innate immune responses have the ability to both combat infectious microbes and drive pathological inflammation. Inflammasome complexes are a central component of these processes through their regulation of interleukin 1β (IL-1β), IL-18 and pyroptosis. Inflammasomes recognize microbial products or endogenous molecules released from damaged or dying cells both through direct binding of ligands and indirect mechanisms. The potential of the IL-1 family of cytokines to cause tissue damage and chronic inflammation emphasizes the importance of regulating inflammasomes. Many regulatory mechanisms have been identified that act as checkpoints for attenuating inflammasome signaling at multiple steps. Here we discuss the various regulatory mechanisms that have evolved to keep inflammasome signaling in check to maintain immunological balance.