Programmed necrosis or necroptosis is controlled by the action of two serine/threonine kinases, RIP1 (receptor-interacting serine/threonine protein kinase 1; also known as RIPK1) and RIP3. The phosphorylation of RIP1 and RIP3 is critical for assembly of the necrosome, an amyloid-like complex that initiates transmission of the pro-necrotic signal. In the present study, we used site-directed mutagenesis to systematically examine the effects of putative phosphoacceptor sites on RIP1 and RIP3 on TNF (tumour necrosis factor)-induced programmed necrosis. We found that mutation of individual serine residues in the kinase domain of RIP1 had little effect on RIP1 kinase activity and TNF-induced programmed necrosis. Surprisingly, an alanine residue substitution for Ser89 enhanced RIP1 kinase activity and TNF-induced programmed necrosis without affecting RIP1–RIP3 necrosome formation. This indicates that Ser89 is an inhibitory phosphoacceptor site that can dampen the pro-necrotic function of RIP1. In addition, we show that a phosphomimetic mutant of RIP3, S204D, led to programmed necrosis that was refractory to RIP1 siRNA and insensitive to necrostatin-1 inhibition. Our results show that programmed necrosis is regulated by positive and inhibitory phosphorylation events.

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