Clostridium perfringens virulence factors are nonredundant activators of the NLRP3 inflammasome

Anukriti Mathur, Callum Kay, Yansong Xue, Abhimanu Pandey, Jiwon Lee, Weidong Jing, Daniel Enosi Tuipulotu, Jordan Lo Pilato, Shouya Feng, Chinh Ngo, Anyang Zhao, Cheng Shen, Melanie Rug, Lisa A. Miosge, Ines I. Atmosukarto, Jason D. Price, Sidra A. Ali, Elizabeth E. Gardiner, Avril A.B. Robertson, Milena M. AwadDena Lyras, Nadeem O. Kaakoush, Si Ming Man

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Inflammasome signaling is a central pillar of innate immunity triggering inflammation and cell death in response to microbes and danger signals. Here, we show that two virulence factors from the human bacterial pathogen Clostridium perfringens are nonredundant activators of the NLRP3 inflammasome in mice and humans. C. perfringens lecithinase (also known as phospolipase C) and C. perfringens perfringolysin O induce distinct mechanisms of activation. Lecithinase enters LAMP1+ vesicular structures and induces lysosomal membrane destabilization. Furthermore, lecithinase induces the release of the inflammasome-dependent cytokines IL-1β and IL-18, and the induction of cell death independently of the pore-forming proteins gasdermin D, MLKL and the cell death effector protein ninjurin-1 or NINJ1. We also show that lecithinase triggers inflammation via the NLRP3 inflammasome in vivo and that pharmacological blockade of NLRP3 using MCC950 partially prevents lecithinase-induced lethality. Together, these findings reveal that lecithinase activates an alternative pathway to induce inflammation during C. perfringens infection and that this mode of action can be similarly exploited for sensing by a single inflammasome.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere54600
Number of pages20
JournalEMBO Reports
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • cell death
  • inflammasome
  • innate immunity
  • toxins

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