NLR proteins: integral members of innate immunity and mediators of inflammatory diseases Academic Article uri icon


  • The innate immune system is the first line of defense against microorganisms and is conserved in plants and animals. The nucleotide-binding domain, leucine rich containing (NLR) protein family is a recent addition to the members of innate immunity effector molecules. These proteins are characterized by a central oligomerization domain, termed nucleotide-binding domain (NBD) and a protein interaction domain, leucine-rich repeats (LRRs) at the C terminus. It has been shown that NLR proteins are localized to the cytoplasm and recognize microbial products. To date, it is known that Nod1 and Nod2 detect bacterial cell wall components, whereas Ipaf and Naip detect bacterial flagellin, and NACHT/LRR/Pyrin 1 has been shown to detect anthrax lethal toxin. NLR proteins comprise a diverse protein family (over 20 in humans), indicating that NLRs have evolved to acquire specificity to various pathogenic microorganisms, thereby controlling host-pathogen interactions. Activation of NLR proteins results in inflammatory responses mediated by NF-kappaB, MAPK, or Caspase-1 activation, accompanied by subsequent secretion of proinflammatory cytokines. Mutations in several members of the NLR protein family have been linked to inflammatory diseases, suggesting these molecules play important roles in maintaining host-pathogen interactions and inflammatory responses. Therefore, understanding NLR signaling is important for the therapeutic intervention of various infectious and inflammatory diseases.

author list (cited authors)

  • Wilmanski, J. M., Petnicki‚ÄźOcwieja, T., & Kobayashi, K. S.

citation count

  • 149

publication date

  • September 2007