J. Biol. Chem. 2019 294: 8325-. doi:10.1074/jbc.RA119.008009
Interleukin (IL)-1 family cytokines potently regulate inflammation, with the majority of the IL-1 family proteins being secreted from immune cells via unconventional pathways. In many cases, secretion of IL-1 cytokines appears to be closely coupled to cell death, yet the secretory mechanisms involved remain poorly understood. Here, we studied the secretion of the three best-characterized members of the IL-1 superfamily, IL-1α, IL-1β, and IL-18, in a range of conditions and cell types, including murine bone marrow–derived and peritoneal macrophages, human monocyte–derived macrophages, HeLa cells, and mouse embryonic fibroblasts. We discovered that IL-1β and IL-18 share a common secretory pathway that depends upon membrane permeability and can operate in the absence of complete cell lysis and cell death. We also found that the pathway regulating the trafficking of IL-1α is distinct from the pathway regulating IL-1β and IL-18. Although the release of IL-1α could also be dissociated from cell death, it was independent of the effects of the membrane-stabilizing agent punicalagin, which inhibited both IL-1β and IL-18 release. These results reveal that in addition to their role as danger signals released from dead cells, IL-1 family cytokines can be secreted in the absence of cell death. We propose that models used in the study of IL-1 release should be considered context-dependently.
This work was supported by Medical Research Council Grant MR/N029992/1 (to D. B.) and a Sir Henry Dale Fellowship jointly funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Royal Society (Grant 104192/Z/14/Z (to G. L.-C)).