The NLRP3 inflammasome senses a range of cellular disturbances, although no consensus exists regarding a common mechanism. Canonical NLRP3 activation is blocked by high extracellular K+, regardless of the activating signal. We report here that canonical NLRP3 activation leads to Ca2+ flux and increased calpain activity. Activated calpain releases a pool of Caspase-1 sequestered by the cytoskeleton to regulate NLRP3 activation. Using electrophysiological recording, we found that resting-state eukaryotic membrane potential (MP) is required for this calpain activity, and depolarization by high extracellular K+ or artificial hyperpolarization results in the inhibition of calpain. Therefore, the MP/Ca2+/calpain/Caspase-1 axis acts as an independent regulatory mechanism for NLRP3 activity. This finding provides mechanistic insight into high K+-mediated inhibition of NLRP3 activation, and it offers an alternative model of NLRP3 inflammasome activation that does not involve K+ efflux.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.