Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Caspase-8 is a key integrator of cell survival and cell death decisions during infection and inflammation. Following engagement of tumor necrosis factor superfamily receptors or certain Toll-like receptors (TLRs), caspase-8 initiates cell-extrinsic apoptosis while inhibiting RIPK3-dependent programmed necrosis. In addition, caspase-8 has an important, albeit less well understood, role in cell-intrinsic inflammatory gene expression. Macrophages lacking caspase-8 or the adaptor FADD have defective inflammatory cytokine expression and inflammasome priming in response to bacterial infection or TLR stimulation. How caspase-8 regulates cytokine gene expression, and whether caspase-8-mediated gene regulation has a physiological role during infection, remain poorly defined. Here we demonstrate that both caspase-8 enzymatic activity and scaffolding functions contribute to inflammatory cytokine gene expression. Caspase-8 enzymatic activity was necessary for maximal expression of Il1b and Il12b, but caspase-8 deficient cells exhibited a further decrease in expression of these genes. Furthermore, the ability of TLR stimuli to induce optimal IκB kinase phosphorylation and nuclear translocation of the nuclear factor kappa light chain enhancer of activated B cells family member c-Rel required caspase activity. Interestingly, overexpression of c-Rel was sufficient to restore expression of IL-12 and IL-1β in caspase-8-deficient cells. Moreover, Ripk3 -/- Casp8 -/- mice were unable to control infection by the intracellular parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which corresponded to defects in monocyte recruitment to the peritoneal cavity, and exogenous IL-12 restored monocyte recruitment and protection of caspase-8-deficient mice during acute toxoplasmosis. These findings provide insight into how caspase-8 controls inflammatory gene expression and identify a critical role for caspase-8 in host defense against eukaryotic pathogens.

Original publication




Journal article


Proc natl acad sci u s a

Publication Date



IL-12, TLR signaling, Toxoplasma, c-Rel, caspase-8