AIM2 inflammasome in infection, cancer, and autoimmunity: Role in DNA sensing, inflammation, and innate immunity

Eur J Immunol. 2016 Feb;46(2):269-80. doi: 10.1002/eji.201545839. Epub 2015 Dec 28.


Recognition of DNA by the cell is an important immunological signature that marks the initiation of an innate immune response. AIM2 is a cytoplasmic sensor that recognizes dsDNA of microbial or host origin. Upon binding to DNA, AIM2 assembles a multiprotein complex called the inflammasome, which drives pyroptosis and proteolytic cleavage of the proinflammatory cytokines pro-IL-1β and pro-IL-18. Release of microbial DNA into the cytoplasm during infection by Francisella, Listeria, Mycobacterium, mouse cytomegalovirus, vaccinia virus, Aspergillus, and Plasmodium species leads to activation of the AIM2 inflammasome. In contrast, inappropriate recognition of cytoplasmic self-DNA by AIM2 contributes to the development of psoriasis, dermatitis, arthritis, and other autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Inflammasome-independent functions of AIM2 have also been described, including the regulation of the intestinal stem cell proliferation and the gut microbiota ecology in the control of colorectal cancer. In this review we provide an overview of the latest research on AIM2 inflammasome and its role in infection, cancer, and autoimmunity.

Keywords: AIM2 inflammasome; Autoimmunity; Bacterial/viral infection; Cancer; DNA sensing; Gut microbiota.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmunity
  • DNA / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Infections / immunology*
  • Inflammasomes / metabolism*
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Receptors, Pattern Recognition / metabolism*


  • AIM2 protein, human
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Inflammasomes
  • Receptors, Pattern Recognition
  • DNA