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Simpson, D.S., Pang, J., Weir, A., Kong, I.Y., Fritsch, M., Rashidi, M., [...], Strasser, A., Silke, J., Pellegrini, M., Kashkar, H., Feltham, R., Vince, J.E.

Interferon-g primes macrophages for pathogen ligand-induced killing via a caspase-8 and mitochondrial cell death pathway.


Cell death plays an important role during pathogen infections. Here, we report that interferon-γ (IFNγ) sensitizes macrophages to Toll-like receptor (TLR)-induced death that requires macrophage-intrinsic death ligands and caspase-8 enzymatic activity, which trigger the mitochondrial apoptotic effectors, BAX and BAK. The pro-apoptotic caspase-8 substrate BID was dispensable for BAX and BAK activation. Instead, caspase-8 reduced pro-survival BCL-2 transcription and increased inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), thus facilitating BAX and BAK signaling. IFNγ-primed, TLR-induced macrophage killing required iNOS, which licensed apoptotic caspase-8 activity and reduced the BAX and BAK inhibitors, A1 and MCL-1. The deletion of iNOS or caspase-8 limited SARS-CoV-2-induced disease in mice, while caspase-8 caused lethality independent of iNOS in a model of hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis. These findings reveal that iNOS selectively licenses programmed cell death, which may explain how nitric oxide impacts disease severity in SARS-CoV-2 infection and other iNOS-associated inflammatory conditions.

Read more at Immunity 55