The human serine/threonine kinase ULK1 is the human homolog of the Caenorhabditis elegans Unc-51 kinase and of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae autophagy-related protein kinase Atg1. As Unc-51 and Atg1, ULK1 regulates both axon growth and autophagy, respectively, in mammalian cells. However, a novel immunoregulatory role of ULK1 has been recently described. This kinase was shown to be required for regulation of both type I interferon (IFN) production and induction of type I IFN signaling. Optimal regulation of IFN production is crucial for generation of effective IFN-immune responses, and defects in such networks can be detrimental for the host leading to uncontrolled pathogen infection, tumor growth, or autoimmune diseases. Thus, ULK1 plays a central role in IFN-dependent immunity. Here we review the diverse roles of ULK1, with special focus on its importance to type I IFN signaling, and highlight important future study questions.
- Immune signaling
- Innate immunity
- Signal transduction
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Immunology and Allergy