Type I interferons (IFNs) are important for antiviral and autoimmune responses. Retinoic acid-induced gene I (RIG-I) and mitochondrial antiviral signaling (MAVS) proteins mediate IFN production in response to cytosolic double-stranded RNA or single-stranded RNA containing 5′-triphosphate (5′-ppp). Cytosolic B form double-stranded DNA, such as poly(dA-dT)•poly(dA-dT) [poly(dA-dT)], can also induce IFN-β, but the underlying mechanism is unknown. Here, we show that the cytosolic poly(dA-dT) DNA is converted into 5′-ppp RNA to induce IFN-β through the RIG-I pathway. Biochemical purification led to the identification of DNA-dependent RNA polymerase III (Pol-III) as the enzyme responsible for synthesizing 5′-ppp RNA from the poly(dA-dT) template. Inhibition of RNA Pol-III prevents IFN-β induction by transfection of DNA or infection with DNA viruses. Furthermore, Pol-III inhibition abrogates IFN-β induction by the intracellular bacterium Legionella pneumophila and promotes the bacterial growth. These results suggest that RNA Pol-III is a cytosolic DNA sensor involved in innate immune responses.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)