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Caspase-8 is a key integrator of cell survival and cell death decisions during infection and inflammation. Following engagement of tumor necrosis factor superfamily receptors or certain Toll-like receptors (TLRs), caspase-8 initiates cell-extrinsic apoptosis while inhibiting RIPK3-dependent programmed necrosis. In addition, caspase-8 has an important, albeit less well understood, role in cell-intrinsic inflammatory gene expression. Macrophages lacking caspase-8 or the adaptor FADD have defective inflammatory cytokine expression and inflammasome priming in response to bacterial infection or TLR stimulation. How caspase-8 regulates cytokine gene expression, and whether caspase-8-mediated gene regulation has a physiological role during infection, remain poorly defined. Here we demonstrate that both caspase-8 enzymatic activity and scaffolding functions contribute to inflammatory cytokine gene expression. Caspase-8 enzymatic activity was necessary for maximal expression of Il1b and Il12b, but caspase-8 deficient cells exhibited a further decrease in expression of these genes. Furthermore, the ability of TLR stimuli to induce optimal IκB kinase phosphorylation and nuclear translocation of the nuclear factor kappa light chain enhancer of activated B cells family member c-Rel required caspase activity. Interestingly, overexpression of c-Rel was sufficient to restore expression of IL-12 and IL-1β in caspase-8-deficient cells. Moreover, Ripk3 -/- Casp8 -/- mice were unable to control infection by the intracellular parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which corresponded to defects in monocyte recruitment to the peritoneal cavity, and exogenous IL-12 restored monocyte recruitment and protection of caspase-8-deficient mice during acute toxoplasmosis. These findings provide insight into how caspase-8 controls inflammatory gene expression and identify a critical role for caspase-8 in host defense against eukaryotic pathogens.

Original publication

DOI

10.1073/pnas.1820529116

Type

Journal article

Journal

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

Publication Date

30/05/2019

Keywords

IL-12, TLR signaling, Toxoplasma, c-Rel, caspase-8