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Ribose 2'-O-methylation provides a molecular signature for the distinction of self and non-self mRNA dependent on the RNA sensor Mda5.

Zuest R., Cervantes-Barragan L., Habjan M., Maier R., Neuman B.W., Ziebuhr J., Szretter K.J., Baker S.C., Barchet W., Diamond M.S., Siddell S.G., Ludewig B., Thiel V.

The 5' cap structures of higher eukaryote mRNAs have ribose 2'-O-methylation. Likewise, many viruses that replicate in the cytoplasm of eukaryotes have evolved 2'-O-methyltransferases to autonomously modify their mRNAs. However, a defined biological role for 2'-O-methylation of mRNA remains elusive. Here we show that 2'-O-methylation of viral mRNA was critically involved in subverting the induction of type I interferon. We demonstrate that human and mouse coronavirus mutants lacking 2'-O-methyltransferase activity induced higher expression of type I interferon and were highly sensitive to type I interferon. Notably, the induction of type I interferon by viruses deficient in 2'-O-methyltransferase was dependent on the cytoplasmic RNA sensor Mda5. This link between Mda5-mediated sensing of viral RNA and 2'-O-methylation of mRNA suggests that RNA modifications such as 2'-O-methylation provide a molecular signature for the discrimination of self and non-self mRNA.

Nat. Immunol. 12:137-143(2011) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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