CARD8 detects intracellular danger signals and forms a caspase-1 activating inflammasome. Like the related inflammasome sensor NLRP1, CARD8 autoprocesses into noncovalently associated N-terminal (NT) and C-terminal (CT) fragments and binds the cellular dipeptidyl peptidases DPP8 and 9 (DPP8/9). Certain danger-associated signals, including the DPP8/9 inhibitor Val-boroPro (VbP) and HIV protease, induce proteasome-mediated NT degradation and thereby liberate the inflammasome-forming CT. Here, we report cryoelectron microscopy (cryo-EM) structures of CARD8 bound to DPP9, revealing a repressive ternary complex consisting of DPP9, full-length CARD8, and CARD8-CT. Unlike NLRP1-CT, CARD8-CT does not interact with the DPP8/9 active site and is not directly displaced by VbP. However, larger DPP8/9 active-site probes can directly weaken this complex in vitro, and VbP itself nevertheless appears to disrupt this complex, perhaps indirectly, in cells. Thus, DPP8/9 inhibitors can activate the CARD8 inflammasome by promoting CARD8 NT degradation and by weakening ternary complex stability.
Keywords: CARD8; DPP9; NLRP1; Val-boroPro (VbP); cryo-EM; inflammasome; pyroptosis; targeted degradation.
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