Gefitinib (GF), the tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) targeting epidermal growth factor receptor, initiates lung inflammation through the NLR family pyrin domain containing 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome. However, the molecular targets and mechanisms underlying the inflammatory action of GF remain unknown. In this study, we identified mitochondrial Src family kinases (mSFKs) as key determinants of GF-induced NLRP3 inflammasome activation. Comprehensive analysis of the TKIs revealed that all TKIs we tested act as potent agonists for the NLRP3 inflammasome in human monocytic THP-1 cells and bone marrow-derived macrophages. Moreover, these TKIs share a common off-target activity against the mSFKs, such as c-Src, Fgr, and Fyn. Interestingly, loss of each kinase spontaneously stimulated the NLRP3 inflammasome activation in THP-1 cells. These results together suggest that NLRP3 senses hypoactivity of the mSFKs that is responsible for mitochondrial dysfunction. Thus, our findings demonstrate a mechanistic link between the NLRP3 inflammasome and mSFKs, which, to our knowledge, provides insights into a novel molecular basis and cellular function of the NLRP3 inflammasome.
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