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J Biol Chem. 2001 Oct 19;276(42):39320-9. Epub 2001 Aug 9.

Interaction between pyrin and the apoptotic speck protein (ASC) modulates ASC-induced apoptosis.

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  • 1Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, The University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48109-0616, USA.


Patients with familial Mediterranean fever suffer sporadic inflammatory attacks characterized by fever and intense pain (in joints, abdomen, or chest). Pyrin, the product of the MEFV locus, is a cytosolic protein whose function is unknown. Using pyrin as a "bait" to probe a yeast two-hybrid library made from neutrophil cDNA, we isolated apoptotic speck protein containing a caspase recruitment domain (CARD) (ASC), a proapoptotic protein that induces the formation of large cytosolic "specks" in transfected cells. We found that when HeLa cells are transfected with ASC, specks are formed. After co-transfection of cells with ASC plus wild type pyrin, an increase in speck-positive cells is found, and speck-positive cells show increased survival. Immunofluorescence studies show that pyrin co-localizes with ASC in specks. Speck localization requires exon 1 of pyrin, but exon 1 alone of pyrin does not result in an increase in the number of specks. Exon 1 of pyrin and exon 1 of ASC show 42% sequence similarity and resemble death domain-related structures in modeling studies. These findings link pyrin to apoptosis pathways and suggest that the modulation of cell survival may be a component of the pathophysiology of familial Mediterranean fever.

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