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Unraveling the mysteries of caspase-6

Memphis, Tennessee, April 15, 2020

Woman in lab coat smiling at camera.

Senior author Thirumala-Devi Kanneganti, PhD, of the Department of Immunology.

St. Jude scientists have found new functions of caspase-6. Caspases are enzymes that regulate programmed cell death.

The scientists previously identified ZBP1 as an innate immune sensor of flu. They found that ZBP1 triggers inflammatory cell death in the form of pyroptosis, apoptosis and necroptosis (PANoptosis).

In this new study, they showed that caspase-6 is essential for innate immunity and host defense during flu infection. It is also a member of the ZBP1-PANoptosome and regulates PANoptosis.

“Our findings add to the fundamental understanding of caspase-6, which has remained a mystery in the caspase field for decades,” said senior author Thirumala-Devi Kanneganti, PhD, of Immunology.  

In mice, caspase-6 helps control the replication of influenza in the lungs and protect against the flu. Caspase-6 may play a similar role regarding other viruses and causes of inflammation involving similar pathways.

Caspase-6 has also been linked to neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and Huntington’s disease. Regulating the activity of caspase-6 may help treat such diseases in humans.

Cell published a report on this work.

Read the full News Release.

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