OTULIN protects the intestinal epithelium from apoptosis during inflammation and infection

Lien Verboom, Christopher J. Anderson, Maude Jans, Ioanna Petta, Gillian Blancke, Arne Martens, Mozes Sze, Tino Hochepied, Kodi S. Ravichandran, Lars Vereecke, Geert van Loo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The intestinal epithelium is a single cell layer that is constantly renewed and acts as a physical barrier that separates intestinal microbiota from underlying tissues. In inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in humans, as well as in experimental mouse models of IBD, this barrier is impaired, causing microbial infiltration and inflammation. Deficiency in OTU deubiquitinase with linear linkage specificity (OTULIN) causes OTULIN-related autoinflammatory syndrome (ORAS), a severe inflammatory pathology affecting multiple organs including the intestine. We show that mice with intestinal epithelial cell (IEC)-specific OTULIN deficiency exhibit increased susceptibility to experimental colitis and are highly sensitive to TNF toxicity, due to excessive apoptosis of OTULIN deficient IECs. OTULIN deficiency also increases intestinal pathology in mice genetically engineered to secrete excess TNF, confirming that chronic exposure to TNF promotes epithelial cell death and inflammation in OTULIN deficient mice. Mechanistically we demonstrate that upon TNF stimulation, OTULIN deficiency impairs TNF receptor complex I formation and LUBAC recruitment, and promotes the formation of the cytosolic complex II inducing epithelial cell death. Finally, we show that OTULIN deficiency in IECs increases susceptibility to Salmonella infection, further confirming the importance of OTULIN for intestinal barrier integrity. Together, these results identify OTULIN as a major anti-apoptotic protein in the intestinal epithelium and provide mechanistic insights into how OTULIN deficiency drives gastrointestinal inflammation in ORAS patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article number534
JournalCell Death and Disease
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2023


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