Inflammation can be experienced as redness, swelling or pain, all mechanisms of protecting the body from infection and injury. In a recent paper by Hochheiser, et al., they showed that a specific protein, NLRP3, involved in inflammatory reactions, develops in a specific pattern during inflammation. This finding may allow for the inhibition or possible stopping of inflammatory processes through effective manipulation (READ MORE).
NLRP3 is activated as a “sensor,” protein following infection from bacterial or viral pathogens or from other foreign substances (READ MORE). This protein also has some implications in the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Inflammation which has been triggered by NLRP3 activation, promotes the production and spread of amyloid-ß plaques, thus contributing to the pathogenesis of the disease. Several NLRP3 proteins attach to each other to form a mass which represents a thread-like structure with a nucleus on which more proteins will attach.
In this present paper, the researchers were able to show the direction and degree of which the structure/filament expands using cryo-electron microscopy. Through small additions of NLRP3, they were able to visualise how the structure develops following attachment of new NLRP3 proteins following each addition (Figure 1).
Their findings allow for the targeting inhibition of inflammation through targeting the development of NLRP3 filaments/structures. This may allow us to reduce or stop chronic inflammation.
Journal article: Hochheiser, I.V., et al., 2022. Directionality of PYD filament growth determined by the transition of NLRP3 nucleation seeds to ASC elongation. Science Advances.
Summary by Stefan Botha