Adenosine-to-inosine editing of endogenous Z-form RNA by the deaminase ADAR1 prevents spontaneous MAVS-dependent type I interferon responses.
Tang Q., Rigby RE., Young GR., Hvidt AK., Davis T., Tan TK., Bridgeman A., Townsend AR., Kassiotis G., Rehwinkel J.
Nucleic acids are powerful triggers of innate immunity and can adopt the Z-conformation, an unusual left-handed double helix. Here, we studied the biological function(s) of Z-RNA recognition by the adenosine deaminase ADAR1, mutations in which cause Aicardi-Goutières syndrome. Adar1mZα/mZα mice, bearing two point mutations in the Z-nucleic acid binding (Zα) domain that abolish Z-RNA binding, displayed spontaneous induction of type I interferons (IFNs) in multiple organs, including in the lung, where both stromal and hematopoietic cells showed IFN-stimulated gene (ISG) induction. Lung neutrophils expressed ISGs induced by the transcription factor IRF3, indicating an initiating role for neutrophils in this IFN response. The IFN response in Adar1mZα/mZα mice required the adaptor MAVS, implicating cytosolic RNA sensing. Adenosine-to-inosine changes were enriched in transposable elements and revealed a specific requirement of ADAR1's Zα domain in editing of a subset of RNAs. Thus, endogenous RNAs in Z-conformation have immunostimulatory potential curtailed by ADAR1, with relevance to autoinflammatory disease in humans.