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J Biol Chem. 2005 Dec 2;280(48):39914-24. Epub 2005 Oct 3.

The CATERPILLER protein monarch-1 is an antagonist of toll-like receptor-, tumor necrosis factor alpha-, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis-induced pro-inflammatory signals.

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Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599, USA.


The CATERPILLER (CLR, also NOD and NLR) proteins share structural similarities with the nucleotide binding domain (NBD)-leucine-rich repeat (LRR) superfamily of plant disease-resistance (R) proteins and are emerging as important immune regulators in animals. CLR proteins contain NBD-LRR motifs and are linked to a limited number of distinct N-terminal domains including transactivation, CARD (caspase activation and recruitment), and pyrin domains (PyD). The CLR gene, Monarch-1/Pypaf7, is expressed by resting primary myeloid/monocytic cells, and its expression in these cells is reduced by Toll-like receptor (TLR) agonists tumor necrosis factor (TNF) alpha and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Monarch-1 reduces NFkappaB activation by TLR-signaling molecules MyD88, IRAK-1 (type I interleukin-1 receptor-associated protein kinase), and TRAF6 (TNF receptor (TNFR)-associated factor) as well as TNFR signaling molecules TRAF2 and RIP1 but not the downstream NFkappaB subunit p65. This indicates that Monarch-1 is a negative regulator of both TLR and TNFR pathways. Reducing Monarch-1 expression with small interference RNA in myeloid/monocytic cells caused a dramatic increase in NFkappaB activation and cytokine expression in response to TLR2/TLR4 agonists, TNFalpha, or M. tuberculosis infection, suggesting that Monarch-1 is a negative regulator of inflammation. Because Monarch-1 is the first CLR protein that interferes with both TLR2 and TLR4 activation, the mechanism of this interference is significant. We find that Monarch-1 associates with IRAK-1 but not MyD88, resulting in the blockage of IRAK-1 hyperphosphorylation. Mutants containing the NBD-LRR or PyD-NBD also blocked IRAK-1 activation. This is the first example of a CLR protein that antagonizes inflammatory responses initiated by TLR agonists via interference with IRAK-1 activation.

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