Pathogen blockade of TAK1 triggers caspase-8–dependent cleavage of gasdermin D and cell death

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Science  30 Nov 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6418, pp. 1064-1069
DOI: 10.1126/science.aau2818

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Caspase-8 is a player in pyroptosis

The activation of certain pattern-recognition receptors by pathogen-associated molecular patterns results in the formation of inflammasome complexes. Inflammasome complexes can initiate both the maturation of inflammatory cytokines and pyroptotic cell death via the caspase-mediated cleavage of gasdermin D (GSDMD). As of now, the only known regulators of GSDMD in macrophages are caspase-1 and caspase-11. Orning et al. report an additional pathway controlling GSDMD processing. YopJ, an effector molecule produced by Yersinia (the causative agent of plague), inhibits TAK1–IκB kinase signaling. This, in turn, results in caspase-8–directed cleavage of GSDMD, pyroptosis, and the release of interleukin 1β (IL-1β) and IL-18. Thus, in the arms race between host and pathogen, the host recognizes signaling disturbances as pathogenic and counters with inflammation and cell death.

Science, this issue p. 1064


Limited proteolysis of gasdermin D (GSDMD) generates an N-terminal pore-forming fragment that controls pyroptosis in macrophages. GSDMD is processed via inflammasome-activated caspase-1 or -11. It is currently unknown whether macrophage GSDMD can be processed by other mechanisms. Here, we describe an additional pathway controlling GSDMD processing. The inhibition of TAK1 or IκB kinase (IKK) by the Yersinia effector protein YopJ elicits RIPK1- and caspase-8–dependent cleavage of GSDMD, which subsequently results in cell death. GSDMD processing also contributes to the NLRP3 inflammasome–dependent release of interleukin-1β (IL-1β). Thus, caspase-8 acts as a regulator of GSDMD-driven cell death. Furthermore, this study establishes the importance of TAK1 and IKK activity in the control of GSDMD cleavage and cytotoxicity.

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