The DHX33 RNA Helicase Senses Cytosolic RNA and Activates the NLRP3 Inflammasome

Hiroki Mitoma, Shino Hanabuchi, Taeil Kim, Musheng Bao, Zhiqiang Zhang, Naoshi Sugimoto, Yong Jun Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

166 Scopus citations


The NLRP3 inflammasome plays a major role in innate immune responses by activating caspase-1, resulting in secretion of interleukin-18 (IL-18) and IL-1β. Although cytosolic double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) and bacterial RNA are known to activate the NLRP3 inflammasome, the upstream sensor is unknown. We investigated the potential function of DExD/H-box RNA helicase family members (previously shown to sense cytosolic DNA and RNA to induce type 1 interferon responses) in RNA-induced NLRP3 inflammasome activation. Among the helicase family members tested, we found that targeting of DHX33 expression by short hairpin RNA efficiently blocked the activation of caspase-1 and secretion of IL-18 and IL-1β in human macrophages that were activated by cytosolic poly I:C, reoviral RNA, or bacterial RNA. DHX33 bound dsRNA via the helicaseCdomain. DHX33 interacted with NLRP3 and formed the inflammasome complex following stimulation with RNA. We therefore identified DHX33 as acytosolic RNA sensor that activates the NLRP3 inflammasome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-135
Number of pages13
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 25 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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