Caspases regulate cell death, immune responses, and homeostasis. Caspase-6 is categorized as an executioner caspase but shows key differences from the other executioners. Overall, little is known about the functions of caspase-6 in biological processes apart from apoptosis. Here, we show that caspase-6 mediates innate immunity and inflammasome activation. Furthermore, we demonstrate that caspase-6 promotes the activation of programmed cell death pathways including pyroptosis, apoptosis, and necroptosis (PANoptosis) and plays an essential role in host defense against influenza A virus (IAV) infection. In addition, caspase-6 promoted the differentiation of alternatively activated macrophages (AAMs). Caspase-6 facilitated the RIP homotypic interaction motif (RHIM)-dependent binding of RIPK3 to ZBP1 via its interaction with RIPK3. Altogether, our findings reveal a vital role for caspase-6 in facilitating ZBP1-mediated inflammasome activation, cell death, and host defense during IAV infection, opening additional avenues for treatment of infectious and autoinflammatory diseases and cancer.
Keywords: AAMs; NLRP3; PANoptosis; RIPK1; RIPK3; ZBP1; apoptosis; caspase-1; caspase-6; caspase-8; inflammasome; influenza A virus; necroptosis; pyroptosis.
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