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Caspase-8 as an Effector and Regulator of NLRP3 Inflammasome Signaling

Antonopoulos, C;Russo, HM;El Sanadi, C;Martin, BN;Li, X;Kaiser, WJ;Mocarski, ES;Dubyak, GR;

We recently described the induction of noncanonical IL-1 processing via caspase-8 recruited to ripoptosome signaling platforms in myeloid leukocytes. Here, we demonstrate that activated NLRP3ASC inflammasomes recruit caspase-8 to drive IL-1 processing in murine bone marrow-derived dendritic cells (BMDC) independent of caspase-1 and -11. Sustained stimulation (>2 h) of LPS-primed caspase-1-deficient (Casp1/11(-/-)) BMDC with the canonical NLRP3 inflammasome agonist nigericin results in release of bioactive IL-1 in conjunction with robust caspase-8 activation. This IL-1 processing and caspase-8 activation do not proceed in Nlrp3(-/-) or Asc(-/-) BMDC and are suppressed by pharmacological inhibition of caspase-8, indicating that caspase-8 can act as a direct IL-1-converting enzyme during NLRP3 inflammasome activation. In contrast to the rapid caspase-1-mediated death of wild type (WT) BMDC via NLRP3-dependent pyroptosis, nigericin-stimulated Casp1/11(-/-) BMDC exhibit markedly delayed cell death via NLRP3-dependent apoptosis. Biochemical analyses of WT and Casp1/11(-/-) BMDC indicated that caspase-8 is proteolytically processed within detergent-insoluble ASC-enriched protein complexes prior to extracellular export during nigericin treatment. Although nigericin-stimulated caspase-1 activation and activity are only modestly attenuated in caspase-8-deficient (Casp8(-/-)Rip3(-/-)) BMDC, these cells do not exhibit the rapid loss of viability of WT cells. These results support a contribution of caspase-8 to both IL-1 production and regulated death signaling via NLRP3 inflammasomes. In the absence of caspase-1, NLRP3 inflammasomes directly utilize caspase-8 as both a pro-apoptotic initiator and major IL-1-converting protease. In the presence of caspase-1, caspase-8 acts as a positive modulator of the NLRP3-dependent caspase-1 signaling cascades that drive both IL-1 production and pyroptotic death.