The Arenaviridae family includes several important human pathogens that can cause severe hemorrhagic fever and greatly threaten public health. As a major component of the innate immune system, the RLR/MAVS signaling pathway is involved in recognizing viral components and initiating antiviral activity. It has been reported that arenavirus infection can suppress the innate immune response, and arenavirus NP and Z proteins of pathogenic arenaviruses can disrupt RLR/MAVS signaling, thus inhibiting production of IFN-I. However, recent studies have shown elevated IFN-I levels in certain arenavirus-infected cells. The mechanism by which arenavirus infection induces IFN-I responses remains unclear.
In this study, the research group led by Prof. Gengfu Xiao in WIV determined that the Lp of Mopeia virus (MOPV), an Old World (OW) arenavirus, can activate the RLR/MAVS pathway and thus induce the production of IFN-I. This activation is associated with the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase activity of Lp. This study provides a foundation for further studies of interactions between arenaviruses and the innate immune system and the elucidation of arenavirus pathogenesis.
The scientists demonstrate for the first time that the Lp of MOPV, an OW arenavirus, can activate the RLR/MAVS signaling pathway and thus induce the production of IFN-I. Based on our results, we proposed that dynamic interactions exist among Lp-produced RNA, NP and the RLR/MAVS signaling pathway, and the outcome of these interactions may determine the final IFN-I response pattern: elevated or declined. Their study provided a possible explanation for how IFN-I can become activated during arenavirus infection and may help gain insights into the interactions that form between different arenavirus components and the innate immune system.