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Annu Rev Immunol. 2015;33:393-416. doi: 10.1146/annurev-immunol-032414-112258. Epub 2015 Jan 22.

Structural biology of innate immunity.

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Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School, and.


Innate immune responses depend on timely recognition of pathogenic or danger signals by multiple cell surface or cytoplasmic receptors and transmission of signals for proper counteractions through adaptor and effector molecules. At the forefront of innate immunity are four major signaling pathways, including those elicited by Toll-like receptors, RIG-I-like receptors, inflammasomes, or cGAS, each with its own cellular localization, ligand specificity, and signal relay mechanism. They collectively engage a number of overlapping signaling outcomes, such as NF-κB activation, interferon response, cytokine maturation, and cell death. Several proteins often assemble into a supramolecular complex to enable signal transduction and amplification. In this article, we review the recent progress in mechanistic delineation of proteins in these pathways, their structural features, modes of ligand recognition, conformational changes, and homo- and hetero-oligomeric interactions within the supramolecular complexes. Regardless of seemingly distinct interactions and mechanisms, the recurring themes appear to consist of autoinhibited resting-state receptors, ligand-induced conformational changes, and higher-order assemblies of activated receptors, adaptors, and signaling enzymes through conserved protein-protein interactions.


RIG-I-like receptor; STING; Toll-like receptor; cGAS; death domain superfamily; higher-order assembly; inflammasome

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