The DNA Sensor AIM2 Maintains Intestinal Homeostasis via Regulation of Epithelial Antimicrobial Host Defense

Shuiqing Hu, Lan Peng, Youn Tae Kwak, Erin McElvania Tekippe, Chandrashekhar Pasare, James S. Malter, Lora V. Hooper, Md Hasan Zaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


Microbial pattern molecules in the intestine play immunoregulatory roles via diverse pattern recognition receptors. However, the role of the cytosolic DNA sensor AIM2 in the maintenance of intestinal homeostasis is unknown. Here, we show that Aim2-/- mice are highly susceptible to dextran sodium sulfate-induced colitis that is associated with microbial dysbiosis as represented by higher colonic burden of commensal Escherichia coli. Colonization of germ-free mice with Aim2-/- mouse microbiota leads to higher colitis susceptibility. In-depth investigation of AIM2-mediated host defense responses reveals that caspase-1 activation and IL-1β and IL-18 production are compromised in Aim2-/- mouse colons, consistent with defective inflammasome function. Moreover, IL-18 infusion reduces E. coli burden as well as colitis susceptibility in Aim2-/- mice. Altered microbiota in inflammasome-defective mice correlate with reduced expression of several antimicrobial peptides in intestinal epithelial cells. Together, these findings implicate DNA sensing by AIM2 as a regulatory mechanism for maintaining intestinal homeostasis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1922-1936
Number of pages15
JournalCell Reports
Issue number9
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


  • AIM2
  • Antimicrobial peptides
  • Colitis
  • DNA sensor
  • Escherichia coli
  • Inflammasome
  • Inflammation
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases
  • Intestinal epithelium
  • Pattern recognition receptors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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