Structural basis for the oligomerization-mediated regulation of NLRP3 inflammasome activation

Umeharu Ohto, Yukie Kamitsukasa, Hanako Ishida, Zhikuan Zhang, Karin Murakami, Chie Hirama, Sakiko Maekawa, Toshiyuki Shimizu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


The nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain (NOD)-like receptor pyrin domain containing 3 (NLRP3) responds to a vast variety of stimuli, and activated NLRP3 forms an inflammasome, which in turn is associated with conditions such as atherosclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, and diabetes. A multilayered regulatory mechanism ensures proper NLRP3 inflammasome activation, although the structural basis for this process remains unclear. This study aimed to investigate the cryo-electron microscopy structure of the dodecameric form of full-length NLRP3 bound to the clinically relevant NLRP3-specific inhibitor MCC950. The inhibitor binds to the cavity distinct from the nucleotide binding site in the NACHT domain and stabilizes the closed conformation of NLRP3. The barrel-shaped dodecamer composed of the inactive form of NLRP3 is formed mainly through LRR-LRR interactions on the lateral side, and the highly positively charged top and bottom sides composed of NACHT domains provide a scaffold for membrane association. The cryo-electron microscopy structure suggests that oligomerization of NLRP3 is necessary for its membrane association; it is subsequently disrupted for activation, hence serving as a key player in controlling the spatiotemporal NLRP3 inflammasome activation. These findings are expected to contribute to the development of drugs targeting NLRP3 in future.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2121353119
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Mar 15
Externally publishedYes


  • NLRP3
  • NOD-like receptor
  • inflammasome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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