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Directly targeting ASC by lonidamine alleviates inflammasome-driven diseases

Chen, C;Zhou, Y;Ning, X;Li, S;Xue, D;Wei, C;Zhu, Z;Sheng, L;Lu, B;Li, Y;Ye, X;Fu, Y;Bai, C;Cai, W;Ding, Y;Lin, S;Yan, G;Huang, Y;Yin, W;

Dysregulated activation of the inflammasome is involved in various human diseases including acute cerebral ischemia, multiple sclerosis and sepsis. Though many inflammasome inhibitors targeting NOD-like receptor protein 3 (NLRP3) have been designed and developed, none of the inhibitors are clinically available. Growing evidence suggests that targeting apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a CARD (ASC), the oligomerization of which is the key event for the assembly of inflammasome, may be another promising therapeutic strategy. Lonidamine (LND), a small-molecule inhibitor of glycolysis used as an antineoplastic drug, has been evidenced to have anti-inflammation effects. However, its anti-inflammatory mechanism is still largely unknown.Middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO), experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) and LPS-induced sepsis mice models were constructed to investigate the therapeutic and anti-inflammasome effects of LND. The inhibition of inflammasome activation and ASC oligomerization by LND was evaluated using western blot (WB), immunofluorescence (IF), quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) in murine bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMDMs). Direct binding of LND with ASC was assessed using molecular mock docking, surface plasmon resonance (SPR), and drug affinity responsive target stability (DARTS).Here, we find that LND strongly attenuates the inflammatory injury in experimental models of inflammasome-associated diseases including autoimmune disease-multiple sclerosis (MS), ischemic stroke and sepsis. Moreover, LND blocks diverse types of inflammasome activation independent of its known targets including hexokinase 2 (HK2). We further reveal that LND directly binds to the inflammasome ligand ASC and inhibits its oligomerization.Taken together, our results identify LND as a broad-spectrum inflammasome inhibitor by directly targeting ASC, providing a novel candidate drug for the treatment of inflammasome-driven diseases in clinic.