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      Mitochondrial DNA Stress Primes the Antiviral Innate Immune Response

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          Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is normally present at thousands of copies per cell and is packaged into several hundred higher-order structures termed nucleoids 1 . The abundant mtDNA-binding protein, transcription factor A mitochondrial (TFAM), regulates nucleoid architecture, abundance, and segregation 2 . Complete mtDNA depletion profoundly impairs oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS), triggering calcium-dependent stress signaling and adaptive metabolic responses 3 . However, the cellular responses to mtDNA instability, a physiologically relevant stress observed in many human diseases and aging, remain ill-defined 4 . Here we show that moderate mtDNA stress elicited by TFAM deficiency engages cytosolic antiviral signaling to enhance the expression of a subset of interferon-stimulated genes (ISG). Mechanistically, we have found that aberrant mtDNA packaging promotes escape of mtDNA into the cytosol, where it engages the DNA sensor cGAS and promotes STING-IRF3-dependent signaling to elevate ISG expression, potentiate type I interferon responses, and confer broad viral resistance. Furthermore, we demonstrate that herpesviruses induce mtDNA stress, which potentiates antiviral signaling and type I interferon responses during infection. Our results further demonstrate that mitochondria are central participants in innate immunity, identify mtDNA stress as a cell-intrinsic trigger of antiviral signaling, and suggest that cellular monitoring of mtDNA homeostasis cooperates with canonical virus sensing mechanisms to fully license antiviral innate immunity.

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          Most cited references 54

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          TM4: a free, open-source system for microarray data management and analysis.

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            Cyclic GMP-AMP synthase is a cytosolic DNA sensor that activates the type I interferon pathway.

            The presence of DNA in the cytoplasm of mammalian cells is a danger signal that triggers host immune responses such as the production of type I interferons. Cytosolic DNA induces interferons through the production of cyclic guanosine monophosphate-adenosine monophosphate (cyclic GMP-AMP, or cGAMP), which binds to and activates the adaptor protein STING. Through biochemical fractionation and quantitative mass spectrometry, we identified a cGAMP synthase (cGAS), which belongs to the nucleotidyltransferase family. Overexpression of cGAS activated the transcription factor IRF3 and induced interferon-β in a STING-dependent manner. Knockdown of cGAS inhibited IRF3 activation and interferon-β induction by DNA transfection or DNA virus infection. cGAS bound to DNA in the cytoplasm and catalyzed cGAMP synthesis. These results indicate that cGAS is a cytosolic DNA sensor that induces interferons by producing the second messenger cGAMP.
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              A mitochondrial paradigm of metabolic and degenerative diseases, aging, and cancer: a dawn for evolutionary medicine.

               C. Wallace (2004)
              Life is the interplay between structure and energy, yet the role of energy deficiency in human disease has been poorly explored by modern medicine. Since the mitochondria use oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) to convert dietary calories into usable energy, generating reactive oxygen species (ROS) as a toxic by-product, I hypothesize that mitochondrial dysfunction plays a central role in a wide range of age-related disorders and various forms of cancer. Because mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is present in thousands of copies per cell and encodes essential genes for energy production, I propose that the delayed-onset and progressive course of the age-related diseases results from the accumulation of somatic mutations in the mtDNAs of post-mitotic tissues. The tissue-specific manifestations of these diseases may result from the varying energetic roles and needs of the different tissues. The variation in the individual and regional predisposition to degenerative diseases and cancer may result from the interaction of modern dietary caloric intake and ancient mitochondrial genetic polymorphisms. Therefore the mitochondria provide a direct link between our environment and our genes and the mtDNA variants that permitted our forbears to energetically adapt to their ancestral homes are influencing our health today.

                Author and article information

                18 December 2014
                02 February 2015
                23 April 2015
                23 October 2015
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                [1 ]Department of Pathology, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA
                [2 ]Department of Immunobiology, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA
                [3 ]Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology, Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
                [4 ]Department of Pathology and Immunology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA
                [5 ]Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Chevy Chase, MD 20815-6789, USA
                [6 ]Department of Genetics, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence: gerald.shadel@

                Present addresses: Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA


                Department of Chemistry, Linfield College, McMinnville, OR 97128


                Institute for Cellular Biochemistry, Universitätsmedizin Göttingen, 37073 Göttingen, Germany


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