Sensing bacterial infections by NAIP receptors in NLRC4 inflammasome activation
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- Gong, YN. & Shao, F. Protein Cell (2012) 3: 98. doi:10.1007/s13238-012-2028-3
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The inflammasome is an emerging new pathway in innate immune defense against microbial infection or endogenous danger signals. The inflammasome stimulates activation of inflammatory caspases, mainly caspase-1. Caspase-1 activation is responsible for processing and secretion of IL-1β and IL-18 as well as for inducing macrophage pyroptotic death. Assembly of the large cytoplasmic inflammasome complex is thought to be mediated by members of NOD-like receptor (NLR) family. While functions of most of the NLR proteins remain to be defined, several NLR proteins including NLRC4 have been shown to assemble distinct inflammasome complexes. These inflammasome pathways, particularly the NLRC4 inflammasome, play a critical role in sensing and restricting diverse types of bacterial infections. Here we review recent advances in defining the exact bacterial ligands and the ligand-binding receptors involved in NLRC4 inflammasome activation. Implications of the discovery of the NAIP family of inflammasome receptors for bacterial flagellin and type III secretion apparatus on future inflammasome and bacterial infection studies are also discussed.