Rotenone-induced Impairment of Mitochondrial Electron Transport Chain Confers a Selective Priming Signal for NLRP3 Inflammasome Activation [Immunology]

September 28th, 2015 by Won, J.-H., Park, S., Hong, S., Son, S., Yu, J.-W.

Mitochondrial dysfunction is considered crucial for NLRP3 inflammasome activation partly through its release of mitochondrial toxic products such as mitochondrial ROS (mROS) and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). While previous studies have shown that classical NLRP3-activating stimulations lead to mROS generation and mtDNA release, it remains poorly understood whether and how mitochondrial damage-derived factors may contribute to NLRP3 inflammasome activation. Here, we demonstrate that impairment of the mitochondrial electron transport chain by rotenone licenses NLRP3 inflammasome activation only upon costimulation with ATP, but not with nigericin or alum. Rotenone-induced priming of NLRP3 in the presence of ATP triggered the formation of speck-like NLRP3 or ASC aggregates and the association of NLRP3 with ASC, resulting in NLRP3-dependent caspase-1 activation. Mechanistically, rotenone confers a priming signal for NLRP3 inflammasome activation only in the context of aberrant high-grade, but not low-grade, mROS production and mitochondrial hyperpolarization. By contrast, rotenone/ATP-mediated mtDNA release and mitochondrial depolarization are likely to be merely an indication of mitochondrial damage rather than triggering factors for NLRP3 inflammasome activation. Our results provide a molecular insight into the selective contribution made by mitochondrial dysfunction to the NLRP3 inflammasome pathway.
  • Posted in Journal of Biological Chemistry, Publications
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