Inflammasome adaptor ASC suppresses apoptosis of gastric cancer cells by an IL18-mediated inflammation-independent mechanism

Virginie Deswaerte, Paul Nguyen, Alison West, Alison F. Browning, Liang Yu, Saleela M. Ruwanpura, Jesse Balic, Thaleia Livis, Charlotte Girard, Adele Preaudet, Hiroko Oshima, Ka Yee Fung, Hazel Tye, Meri Najdovska, Matthias Ernst, Masanobu Oshima, Cem Gabay, Tracy Putoczki, Brendan J. Jenkins

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58 Citations (Scopus)


Inflammasomes are key regulators of innate immunity in chronic inflammatory disorders and autoimmune diseases, but their role in inflammation-associated tumorigenesis remains ill-defined. Here we reveal a protumorigenic role in gastric cancer for the key inflammasome adaptor apoptosis-related speck-like protein containing a CARD (ASC) and its effector cytokine IL18. Genetic ablation of ASC in the gp130F/F spontaneous mouse model of intestinal-type gastric cancer suppressed tumorigenesis by augmenting caspase-8-like apoptosis in the gastric epithelium, independently from effects on myeloid cells and mucosal inflammation. This phenotype was characterized by reduced activation of caspase-1 and NF-κB activation and reduced expression of mature IL18, but not IL1b, in gastric tumors. Genetic ablation of IL18 in the same model also suppressed gastric tumorigenesis, whereas blockade of IL1β and IL1α activity upon genetic ablation of the IL1 receptor had no effect. The specific protumorigenic role for IL18 was associated with high IL18 gene expression in the gastric tumor epithelium compared with IL1β, which was preferentially expressed in immune cells. Supporting an epithelial-specific role for IL18, we found it to be highly secreted from human gastric cancer cell lines. Moreover, IL18 blockade either by a neutralizing anti-IL18 antibody or by CRISPR/Cas9-driven deletion of ASC augmented apoptosis in human gastric cancer cells. In clinical specimens of human gastric cancer tumors, we observed a significant positive correlation between elevated mature IL18 protein and ASC mRNA levels. Collectively, our findings reveal the ASC/IL18 signaling axis as a candidate therapeutic target in gastric cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1293-1307
Number of pages15
JournalCancer Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018

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