Metallothionein 3-Zinc Axis Suppresses Caspase-11 Inflammasome Activation and Impairs Antibacterial Immunity

Debabrata Chowdhury, Jason C. Gardner, Abhijit Satpati, Suba Nookala, Santhosh Mukundan, Aleksey Porollo, Julio A. Landero Figueroa, Kavitha Subramanian Vignesh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Non-canonical inflammasome activation by mouse caspase-11 (or human CASPASE-4/5) is crucial for the clearance of certain gram-negative bacterial infections, but can lead to severe inflammatory damage. Factors that promote non-canonical inflammasome activation are well recognized, but less is known about the mechanisms underlying its negative regulation. Herein, we identify that the caspase-11 inflammasome in mouse and human macrophages (Mϕ) is negatively controlled by the zinc (Zn2+) regulating protein, metallothionein 3 (MT3). Upon challenge with intracellular lipopolysaccharide (iLPS), Mϕ increased MT3 expression that curtailed the activation of caspase-11 and its downstream targets caspase-1 and interleukin (IL)-1β. Mechanistically, MT3 increased intramacrophage Zn2+ to downmodulate the TRIF-IRF3-STAT1 axis that is prerequisite for caspase-11 effector function. In vivo, MT3 suppressed activation of the caspase-11 inflammasome, while caspase-11 and MT3 synergized in impairing antibacterial immunity. The present study identifies an important yin-yang relationship between the non-canonical inflammasome and MT3 in controlling inflammation and immunity to gram-negative bacteria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number755961
JournalFrontiers in immunology
StatePublished - Nov 12 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • MT3
  • caspase-11 non-canonical inflammasome
  • innate immunity
  • macrophage
  • metallothionein
  • non-canonical inflammasome
  • zinc

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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