The PAAD/PYRIN-family protein ASC is a dual regulator of a conserved step in nuclear factor κB activation pathways

Christian Stehlik, Loredana Fiorentino, Andrea Dorfleutner, Jean Marie Bruey, Eugenia M. Ariza, Junji Sagara, John C. Reed*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

144 Scopus citations


Apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a Caspase recruitment domain (ASC) belongs to a large family of proteins that contain a Pyrin, AIM, ASC, and death domain-like (PAAD) domain (also known as PYRIN, DAPIN, Pyk). Recent data have suggested that ASC functions as an adaptor protein linking various PAAD-family proteins to pathways involved in nuclear factor (NF)-κB and pro-Caspase-1 activation. We present evidence here that the role of ASC in modulating NF-κB activation pathways is much broader than previously suspected, as it can either inhibit or activate NF-κB, depending on cellular context. While coexpression of ASC with certain PAAD-family proteins such as Pyrin and Cryopyrin increases NF-κB activity, ASC has an inhibitory influence on NF-κB activation by various proinflammatory stimuli, including tumor necrosis factor (TNF)α, interleukin 1β, and lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Elevations in ASC protein levels or of the PAAD domain of ASC suppressed activation of IκB kinases in cells exposed to pro-inflammatory stimuli. Conversely, reducing endogenous levels of ASC using siRNA enhanced TNF- and LPS-induced degradation of the IKK substrate, IκBα. Our findings suggest that ASC modulates diverse NF-κB induction pathways by acting upon the IKK complex, implying a broad role for this and similar proteins containing PAAD domains in regulation of inflammatory responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1605-1615
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 16 2002


  • Inflammation
  • IκB kinase
  • Monocytes
  • NF-κB
  • Signal transduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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