Human NLRP1 is a sensor for double-stranded RNA

Bauernfried, S., Scherr, M. J., Pichlmair, A., Duderstadt, K. E., Hornung, V. (2021). Science 371.

DOI:10.1126/science.abd0811(link is external)


Inflammasomes function as intracellular sensors of pathogen infection or cellular perturbation and thereby play a central role in numerous diseases. Given the high abundance of NLRP1 in epithelial barrier tissues, we screened a diverse panel of viruses for inflammasome activation in keratinocytes. We identified Semliki Forest virus (SFV), a positive-strand RNA virus, as a potent activator of human but not murine NLRP1B. SFV replication and the associated formation of double-stranded (ds) RNA was required to engage the NLRP1 inflammasome. Moreover, delivery of long dsRNA was sufficient to trigger activation. Biochemical studies revealed that NLRP1 binds dsRNA through its leucine-rich repeat domain, resulting in its NACHT domain gaining adenosine triphosphatase activity. Altogether, these results establish human NLRP1 as a direct sensor for dsRNA and thus RNA virus infection.