A cellular genome-wide association study reveals human variation in microtubule stability and a role in inflammatory cell death.


Pyroptosis is proinflammatory cell death that occurs in response to certain microbes. Activation of the protease caspase-1 by molecular platforms called inflammasomes is required for pyroptosis. We performed a cellular genome-wide association study (GWAS) using Salmonella typhimurium infection of human lymphoblastoid cell lines as a means of dissecting the genetic architecture of susceptibility to pyroptosis and identifying unknown regulatory mechanisms. Cellular GWAS revealed that a common human genetic difference that regulates pyroptosis also alters microtubule stability. An intergenic single-nucleotide polymorphism on chromosome 18 is associated with decreased pyroptosis and increased expression of TUBB6 (tubulin, β 6 class V). TUBB6 is unique among tubulin isoforms in that its overexpression can completely disrupt the microtubule network. Cells from individuals with higher levels of TUBB6 expression have lower microtubule stability and less pyroptosis. Reducing TUBB6 expression or stabilizing microtubules pharmacologically with paclitaxel (Taxol) increases pyroptosis without affecting the other major readout of caspase-1 activation, interleukin-1β secretion. The results reveal a new role for microtubules and possibly specific tubulin isoforms in the execution of pyroptosis. Furthermore, the finding that there is common diversity in TUBB6 expression and microtubule stability could have broad consequences for other microtubule-dependent phenotypes, diseases, and pharmacological responses.





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Publication Info

Salinas, Raul E, Cassandra Ogohara, Monica I Thomas, Kajal P Shukla, Samuel I Miller and Dennis C Ko (2014). A cellular genome-wide association study reveals human variation in microtubule stability and a role in inflammatory cell death. Mol Biol Cell, 25(1). pp. 76–86. 10.1091/mbc.E13-06-0294 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/11104.

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Raul Salinas

Research Associate, Senior

Dennis Ko

Associate Professor in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

Using Pathogens to Decipher Genetic Variation Connecting Cell Biology and Disease Susceptibility
Despite improvements in public health, advancements in vaccines, and the development of many classes of antibiotics, infectious disease is still responsible for over a quarter of all deaths worldwide. However, even for the most devastating of pandemics, individuals demonstrate a large variability in the severity of infection. The long-term goal of the lab is to understand the genetic basis for differences in susceptibility to infection and related inflammatory disorders. We approach this question through a combination of experimental and computational approaches that combine high-throughput cell biology with quantitative human genetics. The identified genetic differences serve as the starting point for exploring new cell biology and human disease susceptibility genes.

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