Members of the family of NOD-like receptors (NLRs) play essential roles in innate immunity by detecting intracellular 'pathogen-associated molecular patterns' (PAMPs) and 'danger-associated molecular patterns' (DAMPs). These molecules reveal the presence of pathogenic infection, abiotic stress, environmental insults, cellular damage, and cell death. NLR family members can be divided in two functional groups. One group consists of intracellular receptors, such as NLRP1, NLRP3, NLRP6 and NLRC4, which mediate the assembly of inflammasome complexes leading to the activation of procaspase-1. The second group includes members such as NOD1 and NOD2, and mediates the assembly of complexes that activate MAPK and NF-κB signaling pathways. We review the roles of NLR family members in health and disease, with emphasis on the signaling mechanisms in cell death and inflammation.
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