Interleukin-1β (IL-1β) is a pro-inflammatory cytokine that regulates inflammatory responses to injury and infection. IL-1β secretion requires the protease caspase-1, which is activated following recruitment to inflammasomes. Endogenous danger-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) released from necrotic cells activate caspase-1 through an NLRP3-inflammasome. Here, we show that the endogenous lipid metabolite sphingosine (Sph) acts as a DAMP by inducing the NLRP3-inflammasome-dependent secretion of IL-1β from macrophages. This process was dependent upon serine/threonine protein phosphatases since the PP1/PP2A inhibitors okadaic acid and calyculin A inhibited Sph-induced IL-1β release. IL-1β release induced by other well-characterized NLRP3-inflammasome activators, such as ATP and uric acid crystals, in addition to NLRC4 and AIM2 inflammasome activators was also blocked by these inhibitors. Thus, we propose Sph as a new DAMP, and that a serine/threonine phosphatase (PP1/PP2A)-dependent signal is central to the endogenous host mechanism through which diverse stimuli regulate inflammasome activation.
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