Caspases not only play an essential role during apoptotic cell death, but a subfamily of them - the inflammatory caspases - are associated with immune responses to microbial pathogens. Activation of inflammatory caspases, such as caspase-1 and caspase-5, occurs upon assembly of an intracellular complex, designated the inflammasome. This results in the cleavage and activation of the proinflammatory cytokines IL-1β and IL-18. Mutations in one of the scaffold proteins of the inflammasome, NALP3/Cryopyrin, are associated with autoinflammatory disorders underscoring the importance of regulating inflammatory caspase activation.
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