CARD8 inflammasome activation triggers pyroptosis in human T cells

Linder, A., Bauernfried, S., Cheng, Y., Albanese, M., Jung, C., Keppler, O. T., Hornung, V. (2020). EMBO J, e105071.

DOI:10.15252/embj.2020105071(link is external)


Inflammasomes execute a unique type of cell death known as pyroptosis. Mostly characterized in myeloid cells, caspase-1 activation downstream of an inflammasome sensor results in the cleavage and activation of gasdermin D (GSDMD), which then forms a lytic pore in the plasma membrane. Recently, CARD8 was identified as a novel inflammasome sensor that triggers pyroptosis in myeloid leukemia cells upon inhibition of dipeptidyl-peptidases (DPP). Here, we show that blocking DPPs using Val-boroPro triggers a lytic form of cell death in primary human CD4 and CD8 T cells, while other prototypical inflammasome stimuli were not active. This cell death displays morphological and biochemical hallmarks of pyroptosis. By genetically dissecting candidate components in primary T cells, we identify this response to be dependent on the CARD8-caspase-1-GSDMD axis. Moreover, DPP9 constitutes the relevant DPP restraining CARD8 activation. Interestingly, this CARD8-induced pyroptosis pathway can only be engaged in resting, but not in activated T cells. Altogether, these results broaden the relevance of inflammasome signaling and associated pyroptotic cell death to T cells, central players of the adaptive immune system.