The PYHIN protein family as mediators of host defenses

Immunol Rev. 2011 Sep;243(1):109-18. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-065X.2011.01053.x.


The innate immune response is the first line of defense against infection and relies on the ability of immune cells to detect the presence of infection through germline-encoded pattern recognition receptors. These include the Toll-like receptors, the retinoic acid inducible gene-like receptors, the nucleotide oligomerization domain-like receptors, and a number of DNA-sensing molecules. Members of the PYHIN protein family have recently emerged as sensors of microbial DNA. PYHIN proteins bind microbial DNA and form caspase-1-activating inflammasomes (AIM2) or drive type I IFN gene transcription (IFI16). Here, we review these discoveries and highlight the emerging role of the PYHIN protein family in mammalian host defenses.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA, Bacterial / immunology
  • DNA, Viral / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Infections / immunology*
  • Inflammasomes / immunology*
  • Interferon Type I / immunology
  • Mammals
  • Nuclear Proteins / immunology*
  • Receptors, Pattern Recognition / immunology*
  • Transcriptional Activation / immunology


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Viral
  • Inflammasomes
  • Interferon Type I
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • PYHIN1 protein, human
  • Receptors, Pattern Recognition