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Nat Immunol. 2011 Sep 4;12(10):1010-6. doi: 10.1038/ni.2095.

The inflammasome adaptor ASC regulates the function of adaptive immune cells by controlling Dock2-mediated Rac activation and actin polymerization.

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  • 1Department of Immunology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee, USA.


The adaptor ASC contributes to innate immunity through the assembly of inflammasome complexes that activate the cysteine protease caspase-1. Here we demonstrate that ASC has an inflammasome-independent, cell-intrinsic role in cells of the adaptive immune response. ASC-deficient mice showed defective antigen presentation by dendritic cells (DCs) and lymphocyte migration due to impaired actin polymerization mediated by the small GTPase Rac. Genome-wide analysis showed that ASC, but not the cytoplasmic receptor NLRP3 or caspase-1, controlled the mRNA stability and expression of Dock2, a guanine nucleotide-exchange factor that mediates Rac-dependent signaling in cells of the immune response. Dock2-deficient DCs showed defective antigen uptake similar to that of ASC-deficient cells. Ectopic expression of Dock2 in ASC-deficient cells restored Rac-mediated actin polymerization, antigen uptake and chemotaxis. Thus, ASC shapes adaptive immunity independently of inflammasomes by modulating Dock2-dependent Rac activation and actin polymerization in DCs and lymphocytes.

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