This proposal takes an innovative approach to address a critical question in innate immunity and cell biology: Where within infected cells are viruses detected? We have recently discovered that in addition to mitochondria, peroxisomes are signaling platforms for antiviral innate immune signaling. Peroxisome-mediated signaling occurs through the actions MAVS, an adaptor protein that receives signals from RIG-I, an RNA helicase that surveys the cytosol for viruses containing RNA genomes. MAVS signaling from peroxisomes induces an unusual interferon-independent signaling pathway that activates the rapid expression of antiviral factors. This signaling pathway is activated by diverse viruses such as influenza virus, vesicular stomatitis virus and mammalian reovirus, and is capable of restricting viral replication. Based on this discovery, we now seek to (1) determine how signaling from peroxisomes leads to the initiation of antiviral immunity, (2) determine if peroxisomal signaling is critical for the control of viruses that disrupt type I interferon expression, and how viral restriction is accomplished, and (3) characterize a novel negative regulator of RIG-I signaling that functions from peroxisomes and mitochondria. Our proposed studies have the potential to profoundly change our view of how antiviral immunity is organized within mammalian cells. This work may facilitate the design of novel therapeutics to manipulate the subcellular positioning of innate immune signaling molecules, helping to either trigger or interfere with an immune reaction.)

Public Health Relevance

Compared to bacterial infections, there is an alarming lack of effective therapeutics to treat viral infections. Our research proposal seeks to understand how our antiviral immune responses are set into motion, with the ultimate goal of harnessing our immune defenses to specifically eliminate infections. By focusing on the earliest triggers of immune activation (the detection of viruses that enter our cells) we hope to uncover antiviral defense strategies that might be applicable to fight all infections.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Research Project (R01)
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Immunity and Host Defense Study Section (IHD)
Program Officer
Palker, Thomas J
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Children's Hospital Boston
United States
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