Nucleic acids research

Structural features of influenza A virus panhandle RNA enabling the activation of RIG-I independently of 5'-triphosphate.

PMID 27288441


Retinoic acid-inducible gene I (RIG-I) recognizes specific molecular patterns of viral RNAs for inducing type I interferon. The C-terminal domain (CTD) of RIG-I binds to double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) with the 5'-triphosphate (5'-PPP), which induces a conformational change in RIG-I to an active form. It has been suggested that RIG-I detects infection of influenza A virus by recognizing the 5'-triphosphorylated panhandle structure of the viral RNA genome. Influenza panhandle RNA has a unique structure with a sharp helical bending. In spite of extensive studies of how viral RNAs activate RIG-I, whether the structural elements of the influenza panhandle RNA confer the ability to activate RIG-I signaling has been poorly explored. Here, we investigated the dynamics of the influenza panhandle RNA in complex with RIG-I CTD using NMR spectroscopy and showed that the bending structure of the panhandle RNA negates the requirement of a 5'-PPP moiety for RIG-I activation.