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J Immunol. 2011 Feb 1;186(3):1618-26. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1002862. Epub 2010 Dec 27.

RIG-I/MDA5/MAVS are required to signal a protective IFN response in rotavirus-infected intestinal epithelium.

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Laboratory of Mucosal Immunology, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.


Rotavirus is a dsRNA virus that infects epithelial cells that line the surface of the small intestine. It causes severe diarrheal illness in children and ∼500,000 deaths per year worldwide. We studied the mechanisms by which intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) sense rotavirus infection and signal IFN-β production, and investigated the importance of IFN-β production by IECs for controlling rotavirus production by intestinal epithelium and virus excretion in the feces. In contrast with most RNA viruses, which interact with either retinoic acid-inducible gene I (RIG-I) or melanoma differentiation-associated gene 5 (MDA5) inside cells, rotavirus was sensed by both RIG-I and MDA5, alone and in combination. Rotavirus did not signal IFN-β through either of the dsRNA sensors TLR3 or dsRNA-activated protein kinase (PKR). Silencing RIG-I or MDA5, or their common adaptor protein mitochondrial antiviral signaling protein (MAVS), significantly decreased IFN-β production and increased rotavirus titers in infected IECs. Overexpression of laboratory of genetics and physiology 2, a RIG-I-like receptor that interacts with viral RNA but lacks the caspase activation and recruitment domains required for signaling through MAVS, significantly decreased IFN-β production and increased rotavirus titers in infected IECs. Rotavirus-infected mice lacking MAVS, but not those lacking TLR3, TRIF, or PKR, produced significantly less IFN-β and increased amounts of virus in the intestinal epithelium, and shed increased quantities of virus in the feces. We conclude that RIG-I or MDA5 signaling through MAVS is required for the activation of IFN-β production by rotavirus-infected IECs and has a functionally important role in determining the magnitude of rotavirus replication in the intestinal epithelium.

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