Retinoic acid inducible gene-I mediated detection of bacterial nucleic acids in human microglial cells

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Background: Bacterial meningitis and meningoencephalitis are associated with devastating neuroinflammation. We and others have demonstrated the importance of glial cells in the initiation of immune responses to pathogens invading the central nervous system (CNS). These cells use a variety of pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) to identify common pathogen motifs and the cytosolic sensor retinoic acid inducible gene-1 (RIG-I) is known to serve as a viral PRR and initiator of interferon (IFN) responses. Intriguingly, recent evidence indicates that RIG-I also has an important role in the detection of bacterial nucleic acids, but such a role has not been investigated in glia. Methods: In this study, we have assessed whether primary or immortalized human and murine glia express RIG-I either constitutively or following stimulation with bacteria or their products by immunoblot analysis. We have used capture ELISAs and immunoblot analysis to assess human microglial interferon regulatory factor 3 (IRF3) activation and IFN production elicited by bacterial nucleic acids and novel engineered nucleic acid nanoparticles. Furthermore, we have utilized a pharmacological inhibitor of RIG-I signaling and siRNA-mediated knockdown approaches to assess the relative importance of RIG-I in such responses. Results: We demonstrate that RIG-I is constitutively expressed by human and murine microglia and astrocytes, and is elevated following bacterial infection in a pathogen and cell type-specific manner. Additionally, surface and cytosolic PRR ligands are also sufficient to enhance RIG-I expression. Importantly, our data demonstrate that bacterial RNA and DNA both trigger RIG-I-dependent IRF3 phosphorylation and subsequent type I IFN production in human microglia. This ability has been confirmed using our nucleic acid nanoparticles where we demonstrate that both RNA- A nd DNA-based nanoparticles can stimulate RIG-I-dependent IFN responses in these cells. Conclusions: The constitutive and bacteria-induced expression of RIG-I by human glia and its ability to mediate IFN responses to bacterial RNA and DNA and nucleic acid nanoparticles raises the intriguing possibility that RIG-I may be a potential target for therapeutic intervention during bacterial infections of the CNS, and that the use of engineered nucleic acid nanoparticles that engage this sensor might be a method to achieve this goal.




Johnson, M. B., Halman, J. R., Burmeister, A. R., Currin, S., Khisamutdinov, E. F., Afonin, K. A., & Marriott, I. (2020). Retinoic acid inducible gene-I mediated detection of bacterial nucleic acids in human microglial cells. Journal of Neuroinflammation, 17(1).

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