Discovery of an inhibitor of DNA-driven inflammation that preferentially targets the AIM2 inflammasome.

Jack Green, Lina El-Sharkawy, Stefan Roth, Jie Zhu, Jiayu Cao, Andrew Leach, Arthur Liesz, Sally Freeman, David Brough

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Inflammation driven by DNA sensors is now understood to be important to disease pathogenesis. Here we describe new inhibitors of DNA sensing, primarily of the inflammasome forming sensor AIM2. Biochemistry and molecular modelling has revealed 4-sulfonic calixarenes as potent inhibitors of AIM2 that likely work by binding competitively to the DNA-binding HIN domain. Though less potent, these AIM2 inhibitors also inhibit DNA sensors cGAS and TLR9 demonstrating a broad utility against DNA-driven inflammatory responses. The 4-sulfonic calixarenes inhibited AIM2-dependent post-stroke T cell death, highlighting a proof of concept that the 4-sulfonic calixarenes could be effective at combatting post-stroke immunosuppression. By extension, we propose a broad utility against DNA-driven inflammation in disease. Finally, we reveal that the drug suramin, by virtue of its structural similarities, is an inhibitor of DNA-dependent inflammation and propose that suramin could be rapidly repurposed to meet an increasing clinical need.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 24 Apr 2023


  • AIM2
  • DNA-sensing
  • Inflammasome
  • Inflammation


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