RIG-I detects invading viral RNA and activates the transcription factors NF-kappaB and IRF3 through the mitochondrial protein MAVS. Here we show that RNA bearing 5'-triphosphate strongly activates the RIG-I-IRF3 signaling cascade in a reconstituted system composed of RIG-I, mitochondria, and cytosol. Activation of RIG-I requires not only RNA but also polyubiquitin chains linked through lysine 63 (K63) of ubiquitin. RIG-I binds specifically to K63-polyubiquitin chains through its tandem CARD domains in a manner that depends on RNA and ATP. Mutations in the CARD domains that abrogate ubiquitin binding also impair RIG-I activation. Remarkably, unanchored K63-ubiquitin chains, which are not conjugated to any target protein, potently activate RIG-I. These ubiquitin chains function as an endogenous ligand of RIG-I in human cells. Our results delineate the mechanism of RIG-I activation, identify CARD domains as a ubiquitin sensor, and demonstrate that unanchored K63-polyubiquitin chains are signaling molecules in antiviral innate immunity.
SciCrunch is a data sharing and display platform. Anyone can create a custom portal where they can select searchable subsets of hundreds of data sources, brand their web pages and create their community. SciCrunch will push data updates automatically to all portals on a weekly basis. User communities can also add their own data to scicrunch, however this is not currently a free service.