Stratified ubiquitination of RIG-I creates robust immune response and induces selective gene expression

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Science Advances  22 Sep 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 9, e1701764
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1701764


The activation of retinoic acid–inducible gene I (RIG-I), an indispensable viral RNA sensor in mammals, is subtly regulated by ubiquitination. Although multiple ubiquitination sites at the amino terminus of RIG-I have been identified, their functional allocations in RIG-I activation remain elusive. We identified a stratified model for RIG-I amino-terminal ubiquitination, in which initiation at either Lys164 or Lys172 allows subsequent ubiquitination at other lysines, to trigger and amplify RIG-I activation. Experimental and mathematical modeling showed that multisite ubiquitination provides robustness in RIG-I–mediated type I interferon (IFN) signaling. Furthermore, the flexibly controlled ultrasensitivity and IFN activation intensity determine the specificity of the IFN-stimulated gene transcription and manipulate cell fate in antiviral immune response. Our work demonstrates that tunable type I IFN signaling can be regulated through multisite RIG-I ubiquitination and elucidates a new paradigm for dynamic regulation in RIG-I–mediated antiviral signaling.

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