NF-κB Pathway in Autoinflammatory Diseases: Dysregulation of Protein Modifications by Ubiquitin Defines a New Category of Autoinflammatory Diseases

Front Immunol. 2017 Apr 19;8:399. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2017.00399. eCollection 2017.


Autoinflammatory diseases are caused by defects in genes that regulate the innate immunity. Recently, the scope of autoinflammation has been broadened to include diseases that result from dysregulations in protein modifications by the highly conserved ubiquitin (Ub) peptides. Thus far these diseases consist of linear ubiquitin chain assembly complex (LUBAC) and OTULIN deficiencies, and haploinsufficiency of A20. The LUBAC is critical for linear ubiquitination of key signaling molecules in immune response pathways, while deubiquitinase enzymes, OTULIN and TNFAIP3/A20, reverse the effects of ubiquitination by hydrolyzing linear (Met1) and Lys63 (K63) Ub moieties, respectively, from conjugated proteins. Consequently, OTULIN or A20-deficient cells have an excess of Met1 or K63 Ub chains on NEMO, RIPK1, and other target substrates, which lead to constitutive activation of the NF-kB pathway. Mutant cells produce elevated levels of many proinflammatory cytokines and respond to therapy with cytokine inhibitors. Patients with an impairment in LUBAC stability have compromised NF-kB responses in non-immune cells such as fibroblasts, while their monocytes are hyperresponsive to IL-1β. Discoveries of germline mutations in enzymes that regulate protein modifications by Ub define a new category of autoinflammatory diseases caused by upregulations in the NF-kB signaling. The primary aim of this review is to summarize the latest developments in our understanding of the etiology of autoinflammation.

Keywords: LUBAC deficiency; OTULIN; TNFAIP3/A20; haploinsufficiency of A20; linear ubiquitin chain assembly complex; otulipenia/otulin-related autoinflammatory syndrome.

Publication types

  • Review