Induction and suppression of antiviral RNA interference by influenza A virus in mammalian cells

Yang Li, Megha Basavappa, Jinfeng Lu, Shuwei Dong, D. Alexander Cronkite, John T. Prior, Hans Christian Reinecker, Paul Hertzog, Yanhong Han, Wan Xiang Li, Sihem Cheloufi, Fedor V. Karginov, Shou Wei Ding, Kate Louisa Jeffrey

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Influenza A virus (IAV) causes annual epidemics and occasional pandemics, and is one of the best-characterized human RNA viral pathogens 1. However, a physiologically relevant role for the RNA interference (RNAi) suppressor activity of the IAV non-structural protein 1 (NS1), reported over a decade ago 2, remains unknown 3. Plant and insect viruses have evolved diverse virulence proteins to suppress RNAi as their hosts produce virus-derived small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) that direct specific antiviral defence 4-7 by an RNAi mechanism dependent on the slicing activity of Argonaute proteins (AGOs) 8,9. Recent studies have documented induction and suppression of antiviral RNAi in mouse embryonic stem cells and suckling mice 10,11. However, it is still under debate whether infection by IAV or any other RNA virus that infects humans induces and/or suppresses antiviral RNAi in mature mammalian somatic cells 12-21. Here, we demonstrate that mature human somatic cells produce abundant virus-derived siRNAs co-immunoprecipitated with AGOs in response to IAV infection. We show that the biogenesis of viral siRNAs from IAV double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) precursors in infected cells is mediated by wild-type human Dicer and potently suppressed by both NS1 of IAV as well as virion protein 35 (VP35) of Ebola and Marburg filoviruses. We further demonstrate that the slicing catalytic activity of AGO2 inhibits IAV and other RNA viruses in mature mammalian cells, in an interferon-independent fashion. Altogether, our work shows that IAV infection induces and suppresses antiviral RNAi in differentiated mammalian somatic cells.

Original languageEnglish
Article number16250
Number of pages9
JournalNature Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 5 Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes

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