The inflammasome recognizes cytosolic microbial and host DNA and triggers an innate immune response

Nature. 2008 Mar 6;452(7183):103-7. doi: 10.1038/nature06664. Epub 2008 Feb 20.


The innate immune system recognizes nucleic acids during infection and tissue damage. Whereas viral RNA is detected by endosomal toll-like receptors (TLR3, TLR7, TLR8) and cytoplasmic RIG-I and MDA5, endosomal TLR9 and cytoplasmic DAI bind DNA, resulting in the activation of nuclear factor-kappaB and interferon regulatory factor transcription factors. However, viruses also trigger pro-inflammatory responses, which remain poorly defined. Here we show that internalized adenoviral DNA induces maturation of pro-interleukin-1beta in macrophages, which is dependent on NALP3 and ASC, components of the innate cytosolic molecular complex termed the inflammasome. Correspondingly, NALP3- and ASC-deficient mice display reduced innate inflammatory responses to adenovirus particles. Inflammasome activation also occurs as a result of transfected cytosolic bacterial, viral and mammalian (host) DNA, but in this case sensing is dependent on ASC but not NALP3. The DNA-sensing pro-inflammatory pathway functions independently of TLRs and interferon regulatory factors. Thus, in addition to viral and bacterial components or danger signals in general, inflammasomes sense potentially dangerous cytoplasmic DNA, strengthening their central role in innate immunity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviridae / genetics
  • Adenoviridae / immunology
  • Adenoviridae / physiology
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • CARD Signaling Adaptor Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / immunology*
  • Cell Line
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / deficiency
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / genetics
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / immunology*
  • Cytosol / metabolism*
  • Cytosol / microbiology
  • Cytosol / virology*
  • DNA / immunology*
  • DNA, Viral / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology*
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Inflammation / virology
  • Interleukin-1beta / immunology
  • Interleukin-1beta / metabolism
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / immunology
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • NLR Family, Pyrin Domain-Containing 3 Protein
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational


  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • CARD Signaling Adaptor Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • DNA, Viral
  • Interleukin-1beta
  • NLR Family, Pyrin Domain-Containing 3 Protein
  • Nlrp3 protein, mouse
  • Pycard protein, mouse
  • DNA