Recently, the focus of murine caspase-11 and human orthologs caspase-4, -5 research has been on their novel function to induce noncanonical inflammasome activation in direct response to Gram-negative bacterial infection. On the other hand, a new role in anti-bacterial autophagy has been attributed to caspase-11, -4 and -5, which currently stands largely unexplored. In this review, we connect lately emerged evidence that suggests these caspases have a key role in anti-bacterial autophagy and discuss the growing implications of a danger molecule—extracellular ATP—and NADPH oxidase-mediated ROS generation as novel inducers of human caspase-4, -5 signaling during infection. We also highlight the adeptness of persistent pathogens like Porphyromonas gingivalis
, a Gram-negative anaerobe and successful colonizer of oral mucosa, to potentially interfere with the activated caspase-4 pathway and autophagy. While, the ability of caspase-4, -5 to promote autophagolysosomal fusion is not well understood, the abundance of caspase-4 in skin and other mucosal epithelial cells implies an important role for caspase-4 in mucosal defense, supporting the view that caspase-4, -5 may play a non-redundant part in innate immunity. Thus, this review will join the currently disconnected cutting-edge research thereby proposing a working model for regulation of caspase-4, -5 in pathogen elimination via cellular-trafficking.
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