Innate immunity: a new signaling pathway
Protein Kinase D located at the Golgi apparatus phosphorylates NLRP3 releasing it from membranes and resulting in assembly of the fully active inflammasome.
J Exp Med Sept. 4, 2017
July 18, 2017
The defense of an organism depends on its ability to recognize danger signals. In mammals including humans, macrophages represent a predominant cellular system that acts against pathogens and removes cellular debris. Activation of macrophages represents a crucial immune defense mechanism and its deregulation contributes to uncontrolled inflammation and autoimmune diseases. Romeo Ricci’s team at the IGBMC has identified a new signaling pathway involved in the intracellular innate immune defense system. For the first time, they provided evidence that the Golgi apparatus, an important cellular organelle, is involved in the activation of the inflammasome, an intracellular multiprotein complex capable of sensing tissue damage and infectious agents. They also showed that pharmacologic interference with this newly identified mechanism can be used to mitigate inflammation. This study was published on 17 July 2017 in the Journal of Experimental Medecine (JEM).
The macrophage harbors two defense systems against dangers signals: on the one hand, specific receptors on their membrane surface and, on the other hand, intracellular complexes including the the various subsets of inflammasomes that are subjects of this study.
Romeo Ricci’s teamwas particularly interested in the NLRP3 inflammasome subunit activation mechanism. NLRP3 has been recently shown to directly bind to mitochondria-associated endoplasmic reticulum membranes (MAMs) allowing for inflammasome activation. This work showed for the first time that the Golgi apparatus activates Protein Kinase D (PKD) leading to NLRP3 phosphorylation. This phosphorylation was essential to release NLRP3 from MAMs resulting in recruitment of additional components and assembly of the mature NLRP3 inflammasome in the cytoplasm triggering an inflammatory response.
Patients affected by a rare genetic disease called CAPS, in which the gene encoding for the NLRP3 protein is mutated, the NLRP3 inflammasome is constitutively activated resulting in auto-inflammation. Using immune cells isolated from these patients, they demonstrated that inhibition of PKD blocked NLP3 inflammasome activation in vitro and mitigated release of pro-inflammatory factors providing a solid basis for new treatment options in NLRP3-related inflammatory diseases.
The study was funded by a USIAS fellow grant from the University of Strasbourg and the European Research Council (ERC).