An integral aspect of innate immunity is the ability to detect foreign molecules of viral origin to initiate antiviral signaling via pattern recognition receptors (PRRs). One such receptor is the RNA helicase retinoic acid inducible gene 1 (RIG-I), which detects and is activated by 5′triphosphate uncapped double stranded RNA (dsRNA) as well as the cytoplasmic viral mimic dsRNA polyI:C. Once activated, RIG-I's CARD domains oligomerize and initiate downstream signaling via mitochondrial antiviral signaling protein (MAVS), ultimately inducing interferon (IFN) production. Another dsRNA binding protein PACT, originally identified as the cellular protein activator of dsRNA-activated protein kinase (PKR), is known to enhance RIG-I signaling in response to polyI:C treatment, in part by stimulating RIG-I's ATPase and helicase activities. TAR-RNA-binding protein (TRBP), which is ∼45% homologous to PACT, inhibits PKR signaling by binding to PKR as well as by sequestration of its’ activators, dsRNA and PACT. Despite the extensive homology and similar structure of PACT and TRBP, the role of TRBP has not been explored much in RIG-I signaling. This work focuses on the effect of TRBP on RIG-I signaling and IFN production. Our results indicate that TRBP acts as an inhibitor of RIG-I signaling in a PACT- and PKR-independent manner. Surprisingly, this inhibition is independent of TRBP's post-translational modifications that are important for other signaling functions of TRBP, but TRBP's dsRNA-binding ability is essential. Our work has major implications on viral susceptibility, disease progression, and antiviral immunity as it demonstrates the regulatory interplay between PACT and TRBP IFN production.

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