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PLoS One. 2011;6(10):e26463. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0026463. Epub 2011 Oct 18.

Inosine-containing RNA is a novel innate immune recognition element and reduces RSV infection.

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Laboratory of Respiratory Biology, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Durham, North Carolina, United States of America.


During viral infections, single- and double-stranded RNA (ssRNA and dsRNA) are recognized by the host and induce innate immune responses. The cellular enzyme ADAR-1 (adenosine deaminase acting on RNA-1) activation in virally infected cells leads to presence of inosine-containing RNA (Ino-RNA). Here we report that ss-Ino-RNA is a novel viral recognition element. We synthesized unmodified ssRNA and ssRNA that had 6% to16% inosine residues. The results showed that in primary human cells, or in mice, 10% ss-Ino-RNA rapidly and potently induced a significant increase in inflammatory cytokines, such as interferon (IFN)-β (35 fold), tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α (9.7 fold), and interleukin (IL)-6 (11.3 fold) (p<0.01). Flow cytometry data revealed a corresponding 4-fold increase in influx of neutrophils into the lungs by ss-Ino-RNA treatment. In our in vitro experiments, treatment of epithelial cells with ss-Ino-RNA reduced replication of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Interestingly, RNA structural analysis showed that ss-Ino-RNA had increased formation of secondary structures. Our data further revealed that extracellular ss-Ino-RNA was taken up by scavenger receptor class-A (SR-A) which activated downstream MAP Kinase pathways through Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) and dsRNA-activated protein kinase (PKR). Our data suggests that ss-Ino-RNA is an as yet undescribed virus-associated innate immune stimulus.

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