It is widely accepted that inflammasomes protect the host from microbial pathogens by inducing inflammatory responses through caspase-1 activation. Here, we show that the inflammasome components ASC and NLRP3 are required for resistance to pneumococcal pneumonia, whereas caspase-1 and caspase-11 are dispensable. In the lung of S. pneumoniae-infected mice, ASC and NLRP3, but not caspase-1/11, were required for optimal expression of several mucosal innate immune proteins. Among them, TFF2 and intelectin-1 appeared to be protective against pneumococcal pneumonia. During infection, ASC and NLRP3 maintained the expression of the transcription factor SPDEF, which can facilitate the expression of the mucosal defense factor genes. Moreover, activation of STAT6, a key regulator of Spdef expression, depended on ASC and NLRP3. Overexpression of these inflammasome proteins sustained STAT6 phosphorylation induced by type 2 cytokines. Collectively, this study suggests that ASC and NLRP3 promote airway mucosal innate immunity by an inflammasome-independent mechanism involving the STAT6-SPDEF pathway.
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