Innate immune detection of the type III secretion apparatus through the NLRC4 inflammasome

Edward A. Miao, Dat P. Mao, Natalya Yudkovsky, Richard Bonneau, Cynthia G. Lorang, Sarah E. Warren, Irina A. Leaf, Alan Aderem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The mammalian innate immune system uses Toll-like receptors (TLRs) andNod-LRRs (NLRs) to detect microbial components during infection. Often these molecules work in concert; for example, the TLRs can stimulate the production of the proforms of the cytokines IL-1? and IL-18,whereas certain NLRs trigger their subsequent proteolytic processing via caspase 1.Gram-negative bacteria use type III secretion systems (T3SS) to deliver virulence factors to the cytosol of host cells, where they modulate cell physiology to favor the pathogen. We show here that NLRC4/Ipaf detects the basal body rod component of the T3SS apparatus (rod protein) from S. typhimurium (PrgJ), Burkholderia pseudomallei (BsaK), Escherichia coli (EprJ and EscI), Shigella flexneri (MxiI), and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PscI). These rod proteins share a sequencemotif that is essential for detection byNLRC4; a similarmotif is found in flagellin that is also detected byNLRC4. S. typhimuriumhas two T3SS: Salmonella pathogenicity island-1 (SPI1), which encodes the rod protein PrgJ, and SPI2, which encodes the rod protein SsaI. Although PrgJ is detected by NLRC4, SsaI is not, and this evasion is required for virulence in mice. The detection of a conserved component of the T3SS apparatus enables innate immune responses to virulent bacteria through a single pathway, a strategy that is divergent from that used by plants inwhich multiple NB-LRR proteins are used to detect T3SS effectors or their effects on cells. Furthermore, the specific detection of the virulence machinery permits the discrimination between pathogenic and nonpathogenic bacteria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3076-3080
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number7
StatePublished - Feb 16 2010


  • Caspase 1
  • IL-1beta
  • Inflammation
  • Type III secretion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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