Caspase-8 as an effector and regulator of NLRP3 inflammasome signaling

Christina Antonopoulos, Hana M. Russo, Caroline El Sanadi, Bradley N. Martin, Xiaoxia Li, William J. Kaiser, Edward S. Mocarski, George R. Dubyak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


We recently described the induction of noncanonical IL-1β processing via caspase-8 recruited to ripoptosome signaling platforms in myeloid leukocytes. Here, we demonstrate that activated NLRP3·ASC inflammasomes recruit caspase-8 to drive IL-1β 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-1β in conjunction with robust caspase-8 activation. This IL-1β 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-1oβ-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-1β production and regulated death signaling via NLRP3 inflammasomes. In the absence of caspase-1, NLRP3 inflammasomes directly utilize caspase-8 as both a proapoptotic initiator and major IL-1β-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-1β production and pyroptotic death.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20167-20184
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number33
StatePublished - Aug 14 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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