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Immunity. 2013 Feb 21;38(2):285-95. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2013.01.008. Epub 2013 Feb 7.

Intracellular interleukin-1 receptor 2 binding prevents cleavage and activity of interleukin-1α, controlling necrosis-induced sterile inflammation.

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Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Cambridge, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge CB2 0QQ, UK.


Necrosis can induce profound inflammation or be clinically silent. However, the mechanisms underlying such tissue specificity are unknown. Interleukin-1α (IL-1α) is a key danger signal released upon necrosis that exerts effects on both innate and adaptive immunity and is considered to be constitutively active. In contrast, we have shown that necrosis-induced IL-1α activity is tightly controlled in a cell type-specific manner. Most cell types examined expressed a cytosolic IL-1 receptor 2 (IL-1R2) whose binding to pro-IL-1α inhibited its cytokine activity. In cell types exhibiting a silent necrotic phenotype, IL-1R2 remained associated with pro-IL-1α. Cell types possessing inflammatory necrotic phenotypes either lacked IL-1R2 or had activated caspase-1 before necrosis, which degraded and dissociated IL-1R2 from pro-IL-1α. Full IL-1α activity required cleavage by calpain after necrosis, which increased its affinity for IL-1 receptor 1. Thus, we report a cell type-dependent process that fundamentally governs IL-1α activity postnecrosis and the mechanism allowing conditional release of this blockade.

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