Bruton tyrosine kinase (BTK) is present in a wide variety of cells and may thus have important non-B cell functions. Here we explored the function of this kinase in macrophages with studies of its regulation of the NLRP3 inflammasome. We found that bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMDMs) from BTK-deficient mice or monocytes from X-linked agammaglobulinemia patients exhibit increased NLRP3 inflammasome activity; this was also the case with BMDMs exposed to low doses of BTK inhibitor such as ibrutinib and monocytes from chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients being treated with ibrutinib. In mechanistic studies, we found that BTK binds to NLRP3 during the priming phase of inflammasome activation and in doing so inhibits LPS/nigericin-induced assembly of the NLRP3 inflammasome during the activation phase of inflammasome activation. This inhibitory effect was caused by BTK inhibition of PP2A-mediated dephosphorylation of Ser5 in the pyrin domain of NLRP3. Finally, we showed that BTK-deficient mice are subject to severe experimental colitis and such colitis is normalized by administration of anti-IL-β or an inhibitor of IL-1β signaling, anakinra. Together, these studies strongly suggest that BTK functions as a physiologic inhibitor of NLRP3 inflammasome activation; they thereby explain the fact that XLA patients are prone to develop Crohn’s disease.
Liming Mao, Atsushi Kitani, Eitaro Hiejima, Kim Montgomery-Recht, Wenchang Zhou, Ivan Fuss, Adrian Wiestner, Warren Strober