The CARD plays a critical role in ASC foci formation and inflammasome signalling.
ABSTRACT: The ASC (apoptosis speck-like protein) is a key component of multimeric protein complexes that mediate inflammation and host defence. Comprising a PYD (Pyrin) domain and a CARD (caspase activation and recruitment domain), ASC functions downstream of NLRs (nucleotide-binding domain, leucine-rich repeat-containing receptors) and AIM2 (absent in melanoma 2) through the formation of supramolecular structures termed inflammasomes. However, the mechanism underlying ASC signalling and its dependency on oligomeric arrangements in inflammasome formation remain poorly understood. When expressed in cells, ASC forms discrete foci (called 'specks') typically with one speck per cell. We employed a BiFC (bimolecular fluorescence complementation) system to investigate and visualize ASC foci formation in living cells. We demonstrated that the CARD of ASC plays a central role in ASC inflammasome assembly, representing the minimal unit capable of forming foci in conjunction with the caspase 1 CARD. Mutational studies point to multiple surfaces on the ASC CARD and two predominant areas on the caspase 1 CARD mediating the formation of ASC/caspase 1 foci. The lack of foci formation for ASC CARD mutants correlates with a loss of IL-1? (interleukin 1?) processing in response to NLRP (NLR family, PYD domain-containing) 3 or AIM2 agonists in RAW264.7 cell reconstitution assays. Analogously, we show that productive formation of the Salmonella typhimurium-induced NLRC4 (NLR family CARD domain-containing protein 4) inflammasome is dependent on ASC-CARD-mediated platform formation. Thus the results of the present study depict a central role of CARDs in the formation of ASC signalling platforms and provide an important tool for investigation of CARD-dependent networks.
Project description:A hallmark of inflammasome activation is the ASC speck, a micrometre-sized structure formed by the inflammasome adaptor protein ASC (apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a CARD), which consists of a pyrin domain (PYD) and a caspase recruitment domain (CARD). Here we show that assembly of the ASC speck involves oligomerization of ASC(PYD) into filaments and cross-linking of these filaments by ASC(CARD). ASC mutants with a non-functional CARD only assemble filaments but not specks, and moreover disrupt endogenous specks in primary macrophages. Systematic site-directed mutagenesis of ASC(PYD) is used to identify oligomerization-deficient ASC mutants and demonstrate that ASC speck formation is required for efficient processing of IL-1β, but dispensable for gasdermin-D cleavage and pyroptosis induction. Our results suggest that the oligomerization of ASC creates a multitude of potential caspase-1 activation sites, thus serving as a signal amplification mechanism for inflammasome-mediated cytokine production.
Project description:Inflammasomes elicit host defense inside cells by activating caspase-1 for cytokine maturation and cell death. AIM2 and NLRP3 are representative sensor proteins in two major families of inflammasomes. The adaptor protein ASC bridges the sensor proteins and caspase-1 to form ternary inflammasome complexes, achieved through pyrin domain (PYD) interactions between sensors and ASC and through caspase activation and recruitment domain (CARD) interactions between ASC and caspase-1. We found that PYD and CARD both form filaments. Activated AIM2 and NLRP3 nucleate PYD filaments of ASC, which, in turn, cluster the CARD of ASC. ASC thus nucleates CARD filaments of caspase-1, leading to proximity-induced activation. Endogenous NLRP3 inflammasome is also filamentous. The cryoelectron microscopy structure of ASC(PYD) filament at near-atomic resolution provides a template for homo- and hetero-PYD/PYD associations, as confirmed by structure-guided mutagenesis. We propose that ASC-dependent inflammasomes in both families share a unified assembly mechanism that involves two successive steps of nucleation-induced polymerization. PAPERFLICK:
Project description:Myeloid cells assemble inflammasomes in response to infection or cell damage; cytosolic sensors activate pro-caspase-1, indirectly for the most part, via the adaptors ASC and NLRC4. This leads to secretion of proinflammatory cytokines and pyroptosis. To explore complex formation under physiological conditions, we generated an alpaca single domain antibody, VHHASC, which specifically recognizes the CARD of human ASC via its type II interface. VHHASC not only impairs ASC(CARD) interactions in vitro, but also inhibits inflammasome activation in response to NLRP3, AIM2, and NAIP triggers when expressed in living cells, highlighting a role of ASC in all three types of inflammasomes. VHHASC leaves the Pyrin domain of ASC functional and stabilizes a filamentous intermediate of inflammasome activation. Incorporation of VHHASC-EGFP into these structures allowed the visualization of endogenous ASC(PYD) filaments for the first time. These data revealed that cross-linking of ASC(PYD) filaments via ASC(CARD) mediates the assembly of ASC foci.
Project description:Absent in melanoma 2 (AIM2) is a cytoplasmic double-stranded DNA sensor involved in innate immunity. It uses its C-terminal HIN domain for recognizing double-stranded DNA and its N-terminal pyrin domain (PYD) for eliciting downstream effects through recruitment and activation of apoptosis-associated Speck-like protein containing CARD (ASC). ASC in turn recruits caspase-1 and/or caspase-11 to form the AIM2 inflammasome. The activated caspases process proinflammatory cytokines IL-1? and IL-18 and induce the inflammatory form of cell death pyroptosis. Here we show that AIM PYD (AIM2(PYD)) self-oligomerizes. We notice significant sequence homology of AIM2(PYD) with the hydrophobic patches of death effector domain (DED)-containing proteins and confirm that mutations on these residues disrupt AIM2(PYD) self-association. The crystal structure at 1.82Å resolution of such a mutant, F27G of AIM2(PYD), shows the canonical six-helix (H1-H6) bundle fold in the death domain superfamily. In contrast to the wild-type AIM2(PYD) structure crystallized in fusion with the large maltose-binding protein tag, the H2-H3 region of the AIM2(PYD) F27G is well defined with low B-factors. Structural analysis shows that the conserved hydrophobic patches engage in a type I interaction that has been observed in DED/DED and other death domain superfamily interactions. While previous mutagenesis studies of PYDs point to the involvement of charged interactions, our results reveal the importance of hydrophobic interactions in the same interfaces. These centrally localized hydrophobic residues within fairly charged patches may form the hot spots in AIM2(PYD) self-association and may represent a common mode of PYD/PYD interactions in general.
Project description:Absent in melanoma 2 (AIM2) is an essential cytosolic double-stranded DNA receptor that assembles with the adaptor, apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a caspase recruitment domain (ASC), and caspase-1 to form the AIM2 inflammasome, which leads to proteolytic maturation of cytokines and pyroptotic cell death. AIM2 contains an N-terminal Pyrin domain (PYD) that interacts with ASC through PYD/PYD interactions and nucleates ASCPYD filament formation. To elucidate the molecular basis of AIM2-induced ASCPYD polymerization, we generated AIM2PYD filaments fused to green fluorescent protein (GFP) and determined its cryo-electron microscopic (cryo-EM) structure. The map showed distinct definition of helices, allowing fitting of the crystal structure. Surprisingly, the GFP-AIM2PYD filament is a 1-start helix with helical parameters distinct from those of the 3-start ASCPYD filament. However, despite the apparent symmetry difference, helical net and detailed interface analyses reveal minimal changes in subunit packing. GFP-AIM2PYD nucleated ASCPYD filament formation in comparable efficiency as untagged AIM2PYD, suggesting assembly plasticity in both AIM2PYD and ASCPYD. The DNA-binding domain of AIM2 is able to form AIM2/DNA filaments, within which the AIM2PYD is brought into proximity to template ASCPYD filament assembly. Because ASC is able to interact with many PYD-containing receptors for the formation of inflammasomes, the observed structural plasticity may be critically important for this versatility in the PYD/PYD interactions.
Project description:Inflammasomes are multiprotein complexes that control the innate immune response by activating caspase-1, thus promoting the secretion of cytokines in response to invading pathogens and endogenous triggers. Assembly of inflammasomes is induced by activation of a receptor protein. Many inflammasome receptors require the adapter protein ASC [apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a caspase-recruitment domain (CARD)], which consists of two domains, the N-terminal pyrin domain (PYD) and the C-terminal CARD. Upon activation, ASC forms large oligomeric filaments, which facilitate procaspase-1 recruitment. Here, we characterize the structure and filament formation of mouse ASC in vitro at atomic resolution. Information from cryo-electron microscopy and solid-state NMR spectroscopy is combined in a single structure calculation to obtain the atomic-resolution structure of the ASC filament. Perturbations of NMR resonances upon filament formation monitor the specific binding interfaces of ASC-PYD association. Importantly, NMR experiments show the rigidity of the PYD forming the core of the filament as well as the high mobility of the CARD relative to this core. The findings are validated by structure-based mutagenesis experiments in cultured macrophages. The 3D structure of the mouse ASC-PYD filament is highly similar to the recently determined human ASC-PYD filament, suggesting evolutionary conservation of ASC-dependent inflammasome mechanisms.
Project description:BACKGROUND:AIM2 binds dsDNA and associates with ASC through their PYDs to form an inflammasome. RESULTS:The AIM2 PYD structure illustrates distinct charge distribution and a unique hydrophobic patch. CONCLUSION:The AIM2 PYD may bind the ASC PYD and the AIM2 HIN domain through overlapping surface. SIGNIFICANCE:These findings provide insights into the mechanisms of AIM2 autoinhibition and inflammasome assembly. Absent in melanoma 2 (AIM2) is a cytosolic double-stranded (dsDNA) sensor essential for innate immune responses against DNA viruses and bacteria such as Francisella and Listeria. Upon dsDNA engagement, the AIM2 amino-terminal pyrin domain (PYD) is responsible for downstream signaling to the adapter protein apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a caspase recruitment domain (ASC) through homotypic PYD-PYD interactions and the assembly of an inflammasome. Toward a better understanding of the AIM2 signaling mechanism, we determined the crystal structure of the human AIM2 PYD. The structure reveals a death domain fold with a short α3 helix that is buttressed by a highly conserved lysine residue at the α2 helix, which may stabilize the α3 helix for potential interaction with partner domains. The surface of the AIM2 PYD exhibits distinct charge distribution with highly acidic α1-α2 helices and highly basic α5-α6 helices. A prominent solvent-exposed hydrophobic patch formed by residues Phe-27 and Phe-28 at the α2 helix resembles a similar surface involved in the death effector domain homotypic interactions. Docking studies suggest that the AIM2 PYD may bind the AIM2 hematopoietic interferon-inducible nuclear (HIN) domain or ASC PYD using overlapping surface near the α2 helix. This may ensure that AIM2 interacts with the downstream adapter ASC only upon release of the autoinhibition by the dsDNA ligand. Our work thus unveils novel structural features of the AIM2 PYD and provides insights into the potential mechanisms of the PYD-HIN and PYD-PYD interactions important for AIM2 autoinhibition and inflammasome assembly.
Project description:The zebrafish genome encodes homologs for most of the proteins involved in inflammatory pathways; however, the molecular components and activation mechanisms of fish inflammasomes are largely unknown. ASC [apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a caspase-recruitment domain (CARD)] is the only adaptor involved in the formation of multiple types of inflammasomes. Here, we demonstrate that zASC is also involved in inflammasome activation in zebrafish. When overexpressed in vitro and in vivo in zebrafish, both the zASC and zASC pyrin domain (PYD) proteins form speck and filament structures. Importantly, the crystal structures of the N-terminal PYD and C-terminal CARD of zebrafish ASC were determined independently as two separate entities fused to maltose-binding protein. Structure-guided mutagenesis revealed the functional relevance of the PYD hydrophilic surface found in the crystal lattice. Finally, the fish caspase-1 homolog Caspy, but not the caspase-4/11 homolog Caspy2, interacts with zASC through homotypic PYD-PYD interactions, which differ from those in mammals. These observations establish the conserved and unique structural/functional features of the zASC-dependent inflammasome pathway. DATABASE:Structural data are available in the PDB under accession numbers 5GPP and 5GPQ.
Project description:Host- and pathogen-associated cytoplasmic double-stranded DNA triggers the activation of a NALP3 (also known as cryopyrin and NLRP3)-independent inflammasome, which activates caspase-1 leading to maturation of pro-interleukin-1beta and inflammation. The nature of the cytoplasmic-DNA-sensing inflammasome is currently unknown. Here we show that AIM2 (absent in melanoma 2), an interferon-inducible HIN-200 family member that contains an amino-terminal pyrin domain and a carboxy-terminal oligonucleotide/oligosaccharide-binding domain, senses cytoplasmic DNA by means of its oligonucleotide/oligosaccharide-binding domain and interacts with ASC (apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a CARD) through its pyrin domain to activate caspase-1. The interaction of AIM2 with ASC also leads to the formation of the ASC pyroptosome, which induces pyroptotic cell death in cells containing caspase-1. Knockdown of AIM2 by short interfering RNA reduced inflammasome/pyroptosome activation by cytoplasmic DNA in human and mouse macrophages, whereas stable expression of AIM2 in the non-responsive human embryonic kidney 293T cell line conferred responsiveness to cytoplasmic DNA. Our results show that cytoplasmic DNA triggers formation of the AIM2 inflammasome by inducing AIM2 oligomerization. This study identifies AIM2 as an important inflammasome component that senses potentially dangerous cytoplasmic DNA, leading to activation of the ASC pyroptosome and caspase-1.
Project description:Inflammasomes are protein complexes that promote the maturation and release of pro-inflammatory cytokines and danger signals as well as pyroptosis in response to infections and cellular stress. Inflammasomes consist of a sensor, an adapter, and the effector caspase-1, which interact through homotypic interactions of caspase recruitment domains (CARDs) or PYRIN domains (PYDs). Hence, decoy proteins encoding only a CARD or PYD, COPs and POPs, respectively, are assumed to inhibit inflammasome assembly. Sensors encoding a PYD belong to the families of NOD-like receptors containing a PYD (NLRPs) or AIM2-like receptors (ALRs), which interact with the PYD- and CARD-containing adapter ASC through homotypic PYD interactions. Subsequently, ASC undergoes PYD-dependent oligomerization, which promotes CARD-mediated interactions between ASC and caspase-1, resulting in caspase-1 activation. POPs are suggested to interfere with the interaction between NLRPs/ALRs and ASC to prevent nucleation of ASC and therefore prevent an oligomeric platform for caspase-1 activation. Similarly, COPs are suggested to bind to the CARD of caspase-1 to prevent its recruitment to the oligomeric ASC platform and its activation. Alternatively, the adapter ASC may regulate inflammasome activity by expressing different isoforms, which are either capable or incapable of assembling an oligomeric ASC platform. The molecular mechanism of inflammasome assembly has only recently been elucidated, but the effects of most COPs and POPs on inflammasome assembly have not been investigated. Here, we discuss our model of COP- and POP-mediated inflammasome regulation.