Purpose of review: To discuss recent developments in the molecular basis of several hereditary recurrent fever syndromes, specifically the cryopyrin-associated periodic syndromes, familial Mediterranean fever and the tumor necrosis factor receptor associated periodic syndrome.
Recent findings: Mutations of CIAS1, the gene encoding cryopyrin/NALP3, lead to a spectrum of disease states termed the cryopyrinopathies. Recently, cryopyrin-deficient mice have been used to show that the protein is a key regulator of interleukin-1beta production that functions by recognizing stimuli such as bacterial RNA and infectious agents. Tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated periodic syndrome was initially thought to be caused by deficient metalloprotease-induced tumor necrosis factor receptor shedding, however new findings suggest that mutations in this receptor may result in inappropriate protein folding, leading to a host of other functional abnormalities that may cause inflammatory disease. Finally, data are emerging that address the possible function of the C-terminal B30.2 domain of pyrin, the familial Mediterranean fever protein. This motif has recently been shown to interact with and inhibit caspase-1, and the modeled structure of this complex highlights how mutations may affect the binding interface.
Summary: Recent reports have advanced our understanding of the structural and functional biology underlying the hereditary recurrent fevers, and are beginning to suggest possible mechanisms by which specific mutations cause disease.