Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2014

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Sutterwala, Fayyaz S

First Committee Member

Sutterwala, Fayyaz S

Second Committee Member

Weiss, Jerrold

Third Committee Member

Allen, Lee-Ann

Fourth Committee Member

Houtman, Jon

Fifth Committee Member

Wilson, Mary


Activation of the cysteine protease caspase-1 and the subsequent processing and secretion of the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-1Β and IL-18 is central to the inflammatory response as well as the induction of adaptive immune responses. Caspase-1 is activated as a part of a high-molecular weight multi-protein complex termed the inflammasome. The NLRP3 inflammasome is by far the best studied of these complexes, and it is the most promiscuous in terms of activating signals. The diversity of NLRP3 activating signals makes it likely that NLRP3 does not recognize each agonist directly, rather it detects a molecule that is generated, revealed, or altered by cellular stress. Recent studies have indicated that mitochondrial dysfunction is crucial for NLRP3 inflammasome activation, yet the activating ligand has not yet been identified. Appropriate and timely activation of this inflammatory pathway is required for host immunity to a variety of pathogens, however dysregulated activation leads to autoinflammation and potentially autoimmunity. Hence it is important to identify mechanisms for inflammasome activation and regulation. Therefore, this dissertation has focused on investigating the mechanisms for activation and regulation of the NLRP3 inflammasome, and the biological consequences of these changes. We show that the mitochondrial lipid cardiolipin is required for NLRP3 inflammasome activation. We have also identifying a novel mechanism by which inflammasome activation is regulated. Data presented in this dissertation shows that IgG immune complexes effectively suppress inflammasome activation and the subsequent processing and secretion of IL-1Α and IL-1Β. Furthermore we show that immunization with IgG immune complexes suppresses both Th2 and Th17 immune responses. Together these data provide novel insights into the activating and regulatory pathways of both the innate and adaptive immune systems.


Adaptive Immunity, Immune Complexes, Inflammasomes, Inflammation, Innate Immunity, Nlrp3


xiii, 114 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 97-114).


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Copyright © 2014 John Roger Janczy