DNA-sensing inflammasomes: regulation of bacterial host defense and the gut microbiota

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DNA sensors are formidable immune guardians of the host. At least 14 cytoplasmic DNA sensors have been identified in recent years, each with specialized roles in driving inflammation and/or cell death. Of these, AIM2 is a sensor of dsDNA, and forms an inflammasome complex to activate the cysteine protease caspase-1, mediates the release of the proinflammatory cytokines IL-1β and IL-18, and induces pyroptosis. The inflammasome sensor NLRP3 can also respond to DNA in the forms of oxidized mitochondrial DNA and the DNA derivative RNA:DNA hybrids produced by bacteria, whereas the putative inflammasome sensor IFI16 responds to viral DNA in the nucleus. Although inflammasomes provoke inflammation for anti-microbial host defense, they must also maintain homeostasis with commensal microbiota. Here, we outline recent advances highlighting the complex relationship between DNA-sensing inflammasomes, bacterial host defense and the gut microbiota.

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