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Some RNA virus genomes bear 5'-triphosphates, which can be recognized in the cytoplasm of infected cells by host proteins that mediate anti-viral immunity. Both the innate sensor RIG-I and the interferon-induced IFIT proteins bind to 5'-triphosphate viral RNAs. RIG-I signals for induction of interferons during RNA virus infection while IFITs sequester viral RNAs to exert an anti-viral effect. Notably, the structures of these proteins reveal both similarities and differences, which are suggestive of independent evolution towards ligand binding. 5'-triphosphates, which are absent from most RNAs in the cytosol of uninfected cells, are thus a marker of virus infection that is targeted by the innate immune system for both induction and execution of the anti-viral response. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Original publication




Journal article


Current Opinion in Microbiology

Publication Date





485 - 492