Recognition of danger signals by a cell initiates a powerful cascade of events generally leading to inflammation. Inflammatory caspases and several other proteases become activated and subsequently cleave their target proinflammatory mediators. The irreversible nature of this process implies that the newly generated proinflammatory fragments need to be sequestered, inhibited, or degraded in order to cancel the proinflammatory program or prevent chronic inflammation. The Arg/N-degron pathway is a ubiquitin-dependent proteolytic pathway that specifically degrades protein fragments bearing N-degrons, or destabilizing residues, which are recognized by the E3 ligases of the pathway. Here, we report that the Arg/N-degron pathway selectively degrades a number of proinflammatory fragments, including some activated inflammatory caspases, contributing in tuning inflammatory processes. Partial ablation of the Arg/N-degron pathway greatly increases IL-1β secretion, indicating the importance of this ubiquitous pathway in the initiation and resolution of inflammation. Thus, we propose a model wherein the Arg/N-degron pathway participates in the control of inflammation in two ways: in the generation of inflammatory signals by the degradation of inhibitory anti-inflammatory domains and as an “off switch” for inflammatory responses through the selective degradation of proinflammatory fragments.
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