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  1. Abstract

    Upon sensing cytosolic- and/or viral double-stranded (ds)DNA, absent-in-melanoma-2 (AIM2)-like-receptors (ALRs) assemble into filamentous signaling platforms to initiate inflammatory responses. The versatile yet critical roles of ALRs in host innate defense are increasingly appreciated; however, the mechanisms by which AIM2 and its related IFI16 specifically recognize dsDNA over other nucleic acids remain poorly understood (i.e. single-stranded (ss)DNA, dsRNA, ssRNA and DNA:RNA hybrid). Here, we find that although AIM2 can interact with various nucleic acids, it preferentially binds to and assembles filaments faster on dsDNA in a duplex length-dependent manner. Moreover, AIM2 oligomers assembled on nucleic acids other than dsDNA not only display less ordered filamentous structures, but also fail to induce the polymerization of downstream ASC. Likewise, although showing broader nucleic acid selectivity than AIM2, IFI16 binds to and oligomerizes most readily on dsDNA in a duplex length-dependent manner. Nevertheless, IFI16 fails to form filaments on single-stranded nucleic acids and does not accelerate the polymerization of ASC regardless of bound nucleic acids. Together, we reveal that filament assembly is integral to nucleic acid distinction by ALRs.

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  2. Abstract

    Inflammasomes are filamentous signaling platforms integral to innate immunity. Currently, little is known about how these structurally similar filaments recognize and distinguish one another. A cryo-EM structure of the AIM2PYDfilament reveals that the architecture of the upstream filament is essentially identical to that of the adaptor ASCPYDfilament. In silico simulations using Rosetta and molecular dynamics followed by biochemical and cellular experiments consistently demonstrate that individual filaments assemble bidirectionally. By contrast, the recognition between AIM2 and ASC requires at least one to be oligomeric and occurs in a head-to-tail manner. Using in silico mutagenesis as a guide, we also identify specific axial and lateral interfaces that dictate the recognition and distinction between AIM2 and ASC filaments. Together, the results here provide a robust framework for delineating the signaling specificity and order of inflammasomes.

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