Bacterial gasdermins reveal an ancient mechanism of cell death


Alex G. Johnson, Tanita Wein, Megan L. Mayer, Brianna Duncan-Lowey, Erez Yirmiya, Yaara Oppenheimer-Shaanan, Gil Amitai, Rotem Sorek, and Philip J. Kranzusch. 1/13/2022. “Bacterial gasdermins reveal an ancient mechanism of cell death.” Science, 375, 6577, Pp. 221-225. Publisher's Version


Gasdermins are cell death proteins in mammals that form membrane pores in response to pathogen infection. Johnson et al. report that diverse bacteria encode structural and functional homologs of mammalian gasdermins. Like their mammalian counterparts, bacterial gasdermins are activated by caspase-like proteases, oligomerize into large membrane pores, and defend against pathogen—in this case, bacteriophage—infection. Proteolytic activation occurs through the release of a short inhibitory peptide, and many bacterial gasdermins are lipidated to facilitate membrane pore formation. Pyroptotic cell death, a central component of mammalian innate immunity, thus has a shared origin with an ancient antibacteriophage defense system. —SMH Bacteria encode gasdermins that are activated by dedicated proteases, defend from phage, and induce cell death. Gasdermin proteins form large membrane pores in human cells that release immune cytokines and induce lytic cell death. Gasdermin pore formation is triggered by caspase-mediated cleavage during inflammasome signaling and is critical for defense against pathogens and cancer. We discovered gasdermin homologs encoded in bacteria that defended against phages and executed cell death. Structures of bacterial gasdermins revealed a conserved pore-forming domain that was stabilized in the inactive state with a buried lipid modification. Bacterial gasdermins were activated by dedicated caspase-like proteases that catalyzed site-specific cleavage and the removal of an inhibitory C-terminal peptide. Release of autoinhibition induced the assembly of large and heterogeneous pores that disrupted membrane integrity. Thus, pyroptosis is an ancient form of regulated cell death shared between bacteria and animals.
Last updated on 03/07/2022