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J Biol Chem. 2011 Dec 16;286(50):43313-23. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.306191. Epub 2011 Oct 24.

NLRP7, a nucleotide oligomerization domain-like receptor protein, is required for normal cytokine secretion and co-localizes with Golgi and the microtubule-organizing center.

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Department of Human Genetics, McGill University Health Center, Montreal H3G 1A4, Canada.


A hydatidiform mole (HM) is a human pregnancy with hyperproliferative placenta and abnormal embryonic development. Mutations in NLRP7, a member of the nucleotide oligomerization domain-like receptor family of proteins with roles in inflammation and apoptosis, are responsible for recurrent HMs. However, little is known about the functional role of NLRP7. Here, we demonstrate that peripheral blood mononuclear cells from patients with NLRP7 mutations and rare variants secrete low levels of IL-1β and TNF in response to LPS. We show that the cells from patients, carrying mutations or rare variants, have variable levels of increased intracellular pro-IL-1β indicating that normal NLRP7 down-regulates pro-IL-1β synthesis in response to LPS. Using transient transfections, we confirm the role of normal NLRP7 in inhibiting pro-IL-1β and demonstrate that this inhibitory function is abolished by protein-truncating mutations after the Pyrin domain. Within peripheral blood mononuclear cells, NLRP7 co-localizes with the Golgi and the microtubule-organizing center and is associated with microtubules. This suggests that NLRP7 mutations may affect cytokine secretion by interfering, directly or indirectly, with their trafficking. We propose that the impaired cytokine trafficking and secretion caused by NLRP7 defects makes the patients tolerant to the growth of these earlier arrested conceptions with no fetal vessels and that the retention of these conceptions until the end of the first trimester contribute to the molar phenotype. Our data will impact our understanding of postmolar choriocarcinomas, the only allograft non-self tumors that are able to invade maternal tissues.

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