The inflammasome adapter ASC assembles into filaments with integral participation of its two Death Domains, PYD and CARD.


From the Department of Bioengineering, [Email]


The inflammasome is a multiprotein complex necessary for the onset of inflammation. The adapter protein ASC assembles inflammasome components by acting as a molecular glue between danger-signal sensors and procaspase-1. The assembly is mediated by ASC self-association and protein interactions via its two Death Domains, PYD and CARD. Truncated versions of ASC have been shown to form filaments, but information on the filaments formed by full-length ASC is needed to construct a meaningful model of inflammasome assembly. To gain insights into this system, we used a combination of transmission EM, NMR, and computational analysis to investigate intact ASC structures. We show that ASC forms ∼6-7-nm-wide filaments that stack laterally to form bundles. The structural characteristics and dimensions of the bundles indicate that both PYD and CARD are integral parts of the filament. A truncated version of ASC with only the CARD domain (ASCCARD) forms different filaments (∼3-4-nm width), providing further evidence that both domains work in concert in filament assembly. Ring-shaped protein particles bound to pre-existing filaments match the size of ASC dimer structures generated by NMR-based protein docking, suggesting that the ASC dimer could be a basic building block for filament formation. Solution NMR binding studies identified the protein surfaces involved in the ASCCARD-ASCCARD interaction. These data provide new insights into the structural underpinnings of the inflammasome and should inform future efforts to interrogate this important biological system.


ASC,CARD,Death Domain,NMR,PYD,apoptosis,inflammasome,inflammation,protein assembly,transmission electron microscopy,