INNATE IMMUNITY

Cleaving RNA dials down inflammation

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Science  29 Aug 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6200, pp. 1017
DOI: 10.1126/science.345.6200.1017-e

The immune system detects viruses when viral nucleic acids bind protein receptors in immune cells. But what keeps these receptors from reacting to the host cells' own nucleic acids in the cytoplasm and causing unwanted inflammation? Eckard et al. examined the case of RIG-I–like receptors (RLRs), which bind to viral RNA. Th ey found that host RNAs generated during cellular stress could induce an RLR-dependent inflammatory response. In normal cells, the protein SKIV2L, which is part of a large protein complex that chews up RNA, prevented such inflammation by degrading the RNAs. The authors observed an inflammatory response in two patients who had mutated versions of SKIV2L, suggesting that SKIV2L keeps inflammation in check in human cells, too.

Nat. Immunol. 10.1038/ni.2948 (2014).

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