Nucleotide binding oligomerization domain (NOD)-like receptors are cytoplasmic pattern-recognition receptors that together with RIG-I-like receptor (retinoic acid-inducible gene 1), Toll-like receptor (TLR), and C-type lectin families make up the innate pathogen pattern recognition system. There are 22 members of NLRs in humans, 34 in mice, and even a larger number in some invertebrates like sea urchins, which contain more than 200 receptors. Although initially described to respond to intracellular pathogens, NLRs have been shown to play important roles in distinct biological processes ranging from regulation of antigen presentation, sensing metabolic changes in the cell, modulation of inflammation, embryo development, cell death, and differentiation of the adaptive immune response. The diversity among NLR receptors is derived from ligand specificity conferred by the leucine-rich repeats and an NH2-terminal effector domain that triggers the activation of different biological pathways. Here, we describe NLR genes associated with different biological processes and the molecular mechanisms underlying their function. Furthermore, we discuss mutations in NLR genes that have been associated with human diseases.
Copyright © 2015 the American Physiological Society.