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COVID-19 caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus remains a threat to global health. The disease severity is mediated by cell death and inflammation, which regulate both the antiviral and the pathological innate immune responses. ZBP1, an interferon-induced cytosolic nucleic acid sensor, facilitates antiviral responses via RIPK3. Although ZBP1-mediated cell death is widely described, whether and how it promotes inflammatory signaling is unclear. Here, we report a ZBP1-induced inflammatory signaling pathway that depends on ubiquitination and RIPK3’s scaffolding ability independently of cell death. In human cells, ZBP1 associates with RIPK1 and RIPK3 as well as ubiquitin ligases cIAP1 and LUBAC. RIPK1 and ZBP1 are ubiquitinated to promote TAK1- and IKK-mediated inflammatory signaling. Additionally, RIPK1 recruits the p43/41-caspase-8-p43-FLIP heterodimer to suppress RIPK3 kinase activity, which otherwise promotes inflammatory signaling in a kinase activity-dependent manner. Lastly, we show that ZBP1 contributes to SARS-CoV-2-induced cytokine production. Taken together, we describe a ZBP1-RIPK1-RIPK3-mediated inflammatory signaling pathway relayed by the scaffolding role of RIPKs and regulated by caspase-8. Our results suggest the ZBP1 pathway contributes to inflammation in response to SARS-CoV-2 infection.

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