JOURNAL ARTICLE

Neisseria gonorrhoeae activates the proteinase cathepsin B to mediate the signaling activities of the NLRP3 and ASC-containing inflammasome

Joseph A Duncan, Xi Gao, Max Tze-Han Huang, Brian P O'Connor, Christopher E Thomas, Stephen B Willingham, Daniel T Bergstralh, Gary A Jarvis, P Frederick Sparling, Jenny P-Y Ting
Journal of Immunology 2009 May 15, 182 (10): 6460-9
19414800
Neisseria gonorrhoeae is a common sexually transmitted pathogen that significantly impacts female fertility, neonatal health, and transmission of HIV worldwide. N. gonorrhoeae usually causes localized inflammation of the urethra and cervix by inducing production of IL-1beta and other inflammatory cytokines. Several NLR (nucleotide-binding domain, leucine-rich repeat) proteins are implicated in the formation of pro-IL-1beta-processing complexes called inflammasomes in response to pathogens. We demonstrate that NLRP3 (cryopyrin, NALP3) is the primary NLR required for IL-1beta/IL-18 secretion in response to N. gonorrhoeae in monocytes. We also show that N. gonorrhoeae infection promotes NLRP3-dependent monocytic cell death via pyronecrosis, a recently described pathway with morphological features of necrosis, including release of the strong inflammatory mediator HMBG1. Additionally, N. gonorrhoeae activates the cysteine protease cathepsin B as measured by the breakdown of a cathepsin B substrate. Inhibition of cathepsin B shows that this protease is an apical controlling step in the downstream activities of NLRP3 including IL-1beta production, pyronecrosis, and HMGB1 release. Nonpathogenic Neisseria strains (Neisseria cinerea and Neisseria flavescens) do not activate NLRP3 as robustly as N. gonorrhoeae. Conditioned medium from N. gonorrhoeae contains factors capable of initiating the NLRP3-mediated signaling events. Isolated N. gonorrhoeae lipooligosaccharide, a known virulence factor from this bacterium that is elaborated from the bacterium in the form of outer membrane blebs, activates both NLRP3-induced IL-1beta secretion and pyronecrosis. Our findings indicate that activation of NLRP3-mediated inflammatory response pathways is an important venue associated with host response and pathogenesis of N. gonorrhoeae.

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