Apaf-1-like receptors are evolutionarily conserved DNA sensors that switch the cell fate between apoptosis and inflammation

Published: 11 April 2023| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/4db5ffk46r.1
Jie Ruan


Apoptotic protease activating factor 1 (Apaf-1) was traditionally defined as a scaffold protein in mammalian cells for assembling a caspase activation platform known as the ‘apoptosome’ after its binding to cytochrome c. Although Apaf-1 structurally resembles animal NOD-like receptor (NLR) and plant resistance (R) proteins, whether it is directly involved in innate immunity is still largely unknown. Here, we found that Apaf-1-like receptors (ALRs) from lancelets, fruit flies, mice and humans have conserved DNA sensing functionality. Mechanistically, mammalian Apaf-1 recruits receptor-interacting protein 2 (RIP2, also known as RIPK2) via its WD40 repeat domain and promotes RIP2 oligomerization to initiate NF-κB-driven inflammation upon cytoplasmic DNA recognition. Furthermore, DNA binding of Apaf-1 determines cell fate by switching the cellular processes between intrinsic stimuli-activated apoptosis and inflammation. These findings suggest that ALRs are evolutionarily conserved DNA sensors and serve as cell fate checkpoints, which determine whether cells initiate inflammation or undergo apoptosis by distinct ligand binding.



Sun Yat-Sen University


Confocal Microscopy, Western Blot