Posts Tagged ‘Caspases’

Inflammasome-activated gasdermin D causes pyroptosis by forming membrane pores

Inflammatory caspases (caspases 1, 4, 5 and 11) are activated in response to microbial infection and danger signals. When activated, they cleave mouse and human gasdermin D (GSDMD) after Asp276 and Asp275, respectively, to generate an N-terminal cleavage product (GSDMD-NT) that triggers inflammatory death (pyroptosis) and release of inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-1β. Cleavage removes the C-terminal fragment (GSDMD-CT), which is thought to fold back on GSDMD-NT to inhibit its activation. However, how GSDMD-NT causes cell death is unknown. Here we show that GSDMD-NT oligomerizes in membranes to form pores that are visible by electron microscopy. GSDMD-NT binds to phosphatidylinositol phosphates and phosphatidylserine (restricted to the cell membrane inner leaflet) and cardiolipin (present in the inner and outer leaflets of bacterial membranes). Mutation of four evolutionarily conserved basic residues blocks GSDMD-NT oligomerization, membrane binding, pore formation and pyroptosis. Because of its lipid-binding preferences, GSDMD-NT kills from within the cell, but does not harm neighbouring mammalian cells when it is released during pyroptosis. GSDMD-NT also kills cell-free bacteria in vitro and may have a direct bactericidal effect within the cytosol of host cells, but the importance of direct bacterial killing in controlling in vivo infection remains to be determined.

Programmed elimination of cells by caspase-independent cell extrusion in C. elegans

The elimination of unnecessary or defective cells from metazoans occurs during normal development and tissue homeostasis, as well as in response to infection or cellular damage. Although many cells are removed through caspase-mediated apoptosis followed by phagocytosis by engulfing cells, other mechanisms of cell elimination occur, including the extrusion of cells from epithelia through a poorly understood, possibly caspase-independent, process. Here we identify a mechanism of cell extrusion that is caspase independent and that can eliminate a subset of the Caenorhabditis elegans cells programmed to die during embryonic development. In wild-type animals, these cells die soon after their generation through caspase-mediated apoptosis. However, in mutants lacking all four C. elegans caspase genes, these cells are eliminated by being extruded from the developing embryo into the extra-embryonic space of the egg. The shed cells show apoptosis-like cytological and morphological characteristics, indicating that apoptosis can occur in the absence of caspases in C. elegans. We describe a kinase pathway required for cell extrusion involving PAR-4, STRD-1 and MOP-25.1/-25.2, the C. elegans homologues of the mammalian tumour-suppressor kinase LKB1 and its binding partners STRADα and MO25α. The AMPK-related kinase PIG-1, a possible target of the PAR-4–STRD-1–MOP-25 kinase complex, is also required for cell shedding. PIG-1 promotes shed-cell detachment by preventing the cell-surface expression of cell-adhesion molecules. Our findings reveal a mechanism for apoptotic cell elimination that is fundamentally distinct from that of canonical programmed cell death.

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