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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Feb 19;110(8):2952-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1222808110. Epub 2013 Feb 4.

NLRP1 haplotypes associated with vitiligo and autoimmunity increase interleukin-1β processing via the NLRP1 inflammasome.

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Human Medical Genetics and Genomics Program, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, CO 80045, USA.


Nuclear localization leucine-rich-repeat protein 1 (NLRP1) is a key regulator of the innate immune system, particularly in the skin where, in response to molecular triggers such as pathogen-associated or damage-associated molecular patterns, the NLRP1 inflammasome promotes caspase-1-dependent processing of bioactive interleukin-1β (IL-1β), resulting in IL-1β secretion and downstream inflammatory responses. NLRP1 is genetically associated with risk of several autoimmune diseases including generalized vitiligo, Addison disease, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and others. Here we identify a repertoire of variation in NLRP1 by deep DNA resequencing. Predicted functional variations in NLRP1 reside in several common high-risk haplotypes that differ from the reference by multiple nonsynonymous substitutions. The haplotypes that are high risk for disease share two substitutions, L155H and M1184V, and are inherited largely intact due to extensive linkage disequilibrium across the region. Functionally, we found that peripheral blood monocytes from healthy subjects homozygous for the predominant high-risk haplotype 2A processed significantly greater (P < 0.0001) amounts of the IL-1β precursor to mature bioactive IL-1β under basal (resting) conditions and in response to Toll-like receptor (TLR) agonists (TLR2 and TLR4) compared with monocytes from subjects homozygous for the reference haplotype 1. The increase in basal release was 1.8-fold greater in haplotype 2A monocytes, and these differences between the two haplotypes were consistently observed three times over a 3-mo period; no differences were observed for IL-1α or TNFα. NLRP1 RNA and protein levels were not altered by the predominant high-risk haplotype, indicating that altered function of the corresponding multivariant NLRP1 polypeptide predisposes to autoimmune diseases by activation of the NLRP1 inflammasome.

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