Caspase-4 is required for activation of inflammasomes

Gabriel Sollberger, Gerhard E. Strittmatter, Magdalena Kistowska, Lars E. French, Hans Dietmar Beer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

136 Citations (Scopus)


IL-1β and IL-18 are crucial regulators of inflammation and immunity. Both cytokines are initially expressed as inactive precursors, which require processing by the protease caspase-1 for biological activity. Caspase-1 itself is activated in different innate immune complexes called inflammasomes. In addition, caspase-1 activity regulates unconventional protein secretion of many other proteins involved in inflammation and repair. Human caspase-4 is a poorly characterized member of the caspase family, which is supposed to be involved in endoplasmic reticulum stress-induced apoptosis. However, its gene is located on the same locus as the caspase-1 gene, which raises the possibility that caspase-4 plays a role in inflammation. In this study, we show that caspase-4 expression is required for UVB-induced activation of proIL-1β and for unconventional protein secretion by skin-derived keratinocytes. These processes require expression of the nucleotide-binding domain leucine-rich repeat containing, Pyrin domain containing-3 inflammasome, and caspase-4 physically interacts with its central molecule caspase-1. As the active site of caspase-4 is required for activation of caspase-1, the latter most likely represents a substrate of caspase-4. Caspase-4 expression is also essential for efficient nucleotide-binding domain leucine-rich repeat containing, Pyrin domain containing-3 and for absent in melanoma 2 inflammasome-dependent proIL-1β activation in macrophages. These results demonstrate an important role of caspase-4 in inflammation and innate immunity through activation of caspase-1. Therefore, caspase-4 represents a novel target for the treatment of (auto)inflammatory diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1992-2000
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number4
Early online date2 Feb 2012
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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