Research ArticleInflammation

Familial autoinflammation with neutrophilic dermatosis reveals a regulatory mechanism of pyrin activation

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Science Translational Medicine  30 Mar 2016:
Vol. 8, Issue 332, pp. 332ra45
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaf1471

Guarding inflammation

The innate immune system is hard-wired to protect people from infection. However, mutations in these protective genes can lead to uncontrolled inflammation, resulting in autoinflammatory disease. Now, Masters et al. describe a family with an autoinflammatory disease caused by a previously unreported mutation in pyrin. This mutation disrupts pyrin regulation and mimics the effect of pathogen sensing by pyrin, leading to proinflammatory interleukin-1β (IL-1β) production. Indeed, targeting IL-1β resolved disease in one patient. These data suggest that pyrin is regulated through a guard-like mechanism, which guards against autoinflammation in humans.


Pyrin responds to pathogen signals and loss of cellular homeostasis by forming an inflammasome complex that drives the cleavage and secretion of interleukin-1β (IL-1β). Mutations in the B30.2/SPRY domain cause pathogen-independent activation of pyrin and are responsible for the autoinflammatory disease familial Mediterranean fever (FMF). We studied a family with a dominantly inherited autoinflammatory disease, distinct from FMF, characterized by childhood-onset recurrent episodes of neutrophilic dermatosis, fever, elevated acute-phase reactants, arthralgia, and myalgia/myositis. The disease was caused by a mutation in MEFV, the gene encoding pyrin (S242R). The mutation results in the loss of a 14-3-3 binding motif at phosphorylated S242, which was not perturbed by FMF mutations in the B30.2/SPRY domain. However, loss of both S242 phosphorylation and 14-3-3 binding was observed for bacterial effectors that activate the pyrin inflammasome, such as Clostridium difficile toxin B (TcdB). The S242R mutation thus recapitulated the effect of pathogen sensing, triggering inflammasome activation and IL-1β production. Successful therapy targeting IL-1β has been initiated in one patient, resolving pyrin-associated autoinflammation with neutrophilic dermatosis. This disease provides evidence that a guard-like mechanism of pyrin regulation, originally identified for Nod-like receptors in plant innate immunity, also exists in humans.

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