Nucleic acid sensing by innate immune receptors

The innate immune response is critical for successful host defence against virus infection. Cell-intrinsic mechanisms detect virus presence and restrict virus replication. Nucleic acids are often a molecular signature of virus infection and are recognised by innate receptors including toll-like receptors, RIG-I-like receptors and cytosolic DNA sensors. These receptors signal for the induction of innate response genes such as those encoding type I interferons. These in turn induce the expression of restriction factors, host proteins that limit virus replication.

Our work focuses on cytosolic nucleic acid sensors, in particular RIG-I, MDA5 and cGAS. We are also studying the restriction factor SAMHD1. We are using in vitro and in vivo models of virus infection (including influenza A virus, retroviruses and varicella-zoster virus) and are interested in Aicardi-Goutières syndrome, a rare genetic disease linked to chronic anti-viral innate immune responses. In this presentation, I will discuss our recent work on cGAS and other nucleic acid sensors.