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Cell Host Microbe. 2008 Sep 11;4(3):198-208. doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2008.08.007.

The caspase-1 inflammasome: a pilot of innate immune responses.

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Michael Smith Laboratories, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z4, Canada.


The inflammasome is a large multiprotein complex whose assembly leads to the activation of caspase-1, which promotes the maturation of proinflammatory cytokines interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta) and IL-18. Proteins encoded by the nucleotide-binding domain and leucine-rich repeat (NLR) containing gene family form the central components of inflammasomes and act as intracellular sensors to detect cytosolic microbial components and "danger" signals (such as ATP and toxins). The inflammasome not only plays a pivotal role in innate immune responses toward pathogens but also mediates the activity of aluminum adjuvants. Thus, the inflammasome and associated signaling pathways are attractive targets for new therapeutics and vaccines.

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