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RNA:DNA hybrids are a novel molecular pattern sensed by TLR9

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)542-558
Number of pages17
JournalEMBO Journal
Issue number6
Early online date21 Feb 2014
Publication statusPublished - 18 Mar 2014


The sensing of nucleic acids by receptors of the innate immune system is a key component of antimicrobial immunity. RNA:DNA hybrids, as essential intracellular replication intermediates generated during infection, could therefore represent a class of previously uncharacterised pathogen‐associated molecular patterns sensed by pattern recognition receptors. Here we establish that RNA:DNA hybrids containing viral‐derived sequences efficiently induce pro‐inflammatory cytokine and antiviral type I interferon production in dendritic cells. We demonstrate that MyD88‐dependent signalling is essential for this cytokine response and identify TLR9 as a specific sensor of RNA:DNA hybrids. Hybrids therefore represent a novel molecular pattern sensed by the innate immune system and so could play an important role in host response to viruses and the pathogenesis of autoimmune disease.

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