Sensing of endogenous nucleic acids by ZBP1 induces keratinocyte necroptosis and skin inflammation

J Exp Med. 2020 Jul 6;217(7):e20191913. doi: 10.1084/jem.20191913.


Aberrant detection of endogenous nucleic acids by the immune system can cause inflammatory disease. The scaffold function of the signaling kinase RIPK1 limits spontaneous activation of the nucleic acid sensor ZBP1. Consequently, loss of RIPK1 in keratinocytes induces ZBP1-dependent necroptosis and skin inflammation. Whether nucleic acid sensing is required to activate ZBP1 in RIPK1-deficient conditions and which immune pathways are associated with skin disease remained open questions. Using knock-in mice with disrupted ZBP1 nucleic acid-binding activity, we report that sensing of endogenous nucleic acids by ZBP1 is critical in driving skin pathology characterized by antiviral and IL-17 immune responses. Inducing ZBP1 expression by interferons triggers necroptosis in RIPK1-deficient keratinocytes, and epidermis-specific deletion of MLKL prevents disease, demonstrating that cell-intrinsic events cause inflammation. These findings indicate that dysregulated sensing of endogenous nucleic acid by ZBP1 can drive inflammation and may contribute to the pathogenesis of IL-17-driven inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / pathology*
  • Interleukin-17 / metabolism
  • Keratinocytes / metabolism*
  • Keratinocytes / pathology*
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Necroptosis*
  • Nucleic Acids / metabolism*
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Skin / pathology*


  • Interleukin-17
  • Nucleic Acids
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Zbp1 protein, mouse
  • MLKL protein, mouse
  • Protein Kinases