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J Biol Chem. 2004 Jun 4;279(23):24785-93. Epub 2004 Mar 23.

Caspase-1 activates nuclear factor of the kappa-enhancer in B cells independently of its enzymatic activity.

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Unit of Molecular Signalling and Cell Death, Department for Molecular Biomedical Research, Flanders Interuniversity Institute of Biotechnology, Ghent University, B-9052 Zwijnaarde, Belgium.


The proteolytic activity of caspases is involved in apoptosis and inflammation. In this regard, caspase-1 is required for pro-interleukin (IL)-1beta and pro-IL-18 maturation. We report here on a novel function of caspase-1 as an activator of nuclear factor of the kappa-enhancer in B-cells (NF-kappaB) and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK). This function is not shared by the murine caspase-1 homologues caspase-11 and -12. In contrast to pro-IL-1beta maturation, caspase-1-induced NF-kappaB activation is not inhibited by the virus-derived caspase-1 inhibitor cytokine response modifier A and is equally induced by the enzymatically inactive caspase-1 C285A mutant. Although the general NF-kappaB-inhibiting protein A20 inhibits caspase-1-derived activation of NF-kappaB, dominant-negative forms of TRAF2 and RIP1 have no effect. We demonstrate that caspase-1 interacts with RIP2 and that dominant-negative forms of RIP2 and IkappaB kinase complex-beta inhibit caspase-1-mediated NF-kappaB activation. Structure-function analysis shows that the caspase recruitment domain of caspase-1 mediates the activation of NF-kappaB and p38 MAPK. These data demonstrate that caspase-1 contributes to inflammation by two distinct pathways: proteolysis of pro-IL-1beta, and RIP2-dependent activation of NF-kappaB and p38 MAPK mediated by the caspase recruitment domain.

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