Many Toll-like receptors (TLRs) signal through TNF receptor-associated factor 6 (TRAF6) to activate innate immune responses. Here, we show that somatic nuclear autoantigenic sperm protein (sNASP) binds to TRAF6 to prevent TRAF6 autoubiquitination in unstimulated macrophages. Following LPS stimulation, a complex consisting of sNASP, TRAF6, IRAK4, and casein kinase 2 (CK2) is formed. CK2 phosphorylates sNASP at serine 158, allowing sNASP to dissociate from TRAF6. Free TRAF6 is then autoubiquitinated, followed by activation of downstream signaling pathways. In sNasp S158A knockin (S158A-KI) mice, LPS-treated macrophages could not phosphorylate sNASP, which remained bound to TRAF6. S158A-KI mice were more susceptible to sepsis due to a marked reduction in IL-1ß, TNF-a, and IFN-? production accompanied by an inability to clear bacteria and recruit leukocytes. Furthermore, phosphorylation-regulated release of sNASP from TRAF6 is observed following activation of TLR-1, -2, -4, -5, and -6. Thus, sNASP is a negative regulator of TLR signaling to modulate the innate immune response.
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