Members of the extended interleukin-1 (IL-1) cytokine family, such as IL-1, IL-18, IL-33, and IL-36, play a pivotal role in the initiation and amplification of immune responses. However, deregulated production and/or activation of these cytokines can lead to the development of multiple inflammatory disorders. IL-1 family members share a broadly similar domain organization and receptor signaling pathways. Another striking similarity between IL-1 family members is the requirement for proteolytic processing in order to unlock their full biological potential. Although much emphasis has been put on the role of caspase-1, another emerging theme is the involvement of neutrophil- and mast cell-derived proteases in IL-1 family cytokine processing. Elucidating the regulation of IL-1 family members by proteolytic processing is of great interest for understanding inflammation and immunity. Here, we review the identity of the proteases involved in the proteolytic processing of IL-1 family cytokines and the therapeutic implications in inflammatory disease.
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