SuHyeon Oh1, Jihye Lee1, Jueun Oh1, Gyoengju Yu1, Haesun Ryu2, Daesik Kim2 & SangJoon Lee1*
1Department of Biological Science, Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), Ulsan, Republic of Korea
2Department of Precision Medicine, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Suwon, Republic of Korea
These authors contributed equally: SuHyeon Oh, Jihye Lee.
*Corresponding author : Correspondence to SangJoon Lee.
Inflammasomes are important sentinels of innate immune defense; they sense pathogens and induce the cell death of infected cells, playing key roles in inflammation, development, and cancer. Several inflammasome sensors detect and respond to specific pathogen- and damage-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs and DAMPs, respectively) by forming a multiprotein complex with the adapters ASC and caspase-1. During disease, cells are exposed to several PAMPs and DAMPs, leading to the concerted activation of multiple inflammasomes. However, the molecular mechanisms that integrate multiple inflammasome sensors to facilitate optimal host defense remain unknown. Here, we discovered that simultaneous inflammasome activation by multiple ligands triggered multiple types of programmed inflammatory cell death, and these effects could not be mimicked by treatment with a pure ligand of any single inflammasome. Furthermore, NLRP3, AIM2, NLRC4, and Pyrin were determined to be members of a large multiprotein complex, along with ASC, caspase-1, caspase-8, and RIPK3, and this complex drove PANoptosis. Furthermore, this multiprotein complex was released into the extracellular space and retained as multiple inflammasomes. Multiple extracellular inflammasome particles could induce inflammation after their engulfment by neighboring macrophages. Collectively, our findings define a previously unknown regulatory connection and molecular interaction between inflammasome sensors, which drives the assembly of a multiprotein complex that includes multiple inflammasome sensors and cell death regulators. The discovery of critical interactions among NLRP3, AIM2, NLRC4, and Pyrin represents a new paradigm in understanding the functions of these molecules in innate immunity and inflammasome biology as well as identifying new therapeutic targets for NLRP3-, AIM2-, NLRC4- and Pyrin-mediated diseases.