RNA:DNA hybrids are a novel molecular pattern sensed by TLR9.
Rigby RE., Webb LM., Mackenzie KJ., Li Y., Leitch A., Reijns MAM., Lundie RJ., Revuelta A., Davidson DJ., Diebold S., Modis Y., MacDonald AS., Jackson AP.
The sensing of nucleic acids by receptors of the innate immune system is a key component of antimicrobial immunity. RNA:DNA hybrids, as essential intracellular replication intermediates generated during infection, could therefore represent a class of previously uncharacterised pathogen-associated molecular patterns sensed by pattern recognition receptors. Here we establish that RNA:DNA hybrids containing viral-derived sequences efficiently induce pro-inflammatory cytokine and antiviral type I interferon production in dendritic cells. We demonstrate that MyD88-dependent signalling is essential for this cytokine response and identify TLR9 as a specific sensor of RNA:DNA hybrids. Hybrids therefore represent a novel molecular pattern sensed by the innate immune system and so could play an important role in host response to viruses and the pathogenesis of autoimmune disease.