Cytosolic recognition of microbes and pathogens: Inflammasomes in action

Jenni A. Hayward, Anukriti Mathur, Chinh Ngo, Si Ming Man*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    126 Citations (Scopus)


    SUMMARY Infection is a dynamic biological process underpinned by a complex interplay between the pathogen and the host. Microbes from all domains of life, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoan parasites, have the capacity to cause infection. Infection is sensed by the host, which often leads to activation of the inflammasome, a cytosolic macromolecular signaling platform that mediates the release of the proinflammatory cytokines interleukin-1 (IL-1) and IL-18 and cleavage of the pore-forming protein gasdermin D, leading to pyroptosis. Host-mediated sensing of the infection occurs when pathogens inject or carry pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) into the cytoplasm or induce damage that causes cytosolic liberation of danger-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) in the host cell. Recognition of PAMPs and DAMPs by inflammasome sensors, including NLRP1, NLRP3, NLRC4, NAIP, AIM2, and Pyrin, initiates a cascade of events that culminate in inflammation and cell death. However, pathogens can deploy virulence factors capable of minimizing or evading host detection. This review presents a comprehensive overview of the mechanisms of microbe-induced activation of the inflammasome and the functional consequences of inflammasome activation in infectious diseases. We also explore the microbial strategies used in the evasion of inflammasome sensing at the host-microbe interaction interface.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere00015
    JournalMicrobiology and Molecular Biology Reviews
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


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