Nucleic acid sensing at the interface between innate and adaptive immunity in vaccination

Nat Rev Immunol. 2012 Jun 22;12(7):479-91. doi: 10.1038/nri3247.


The demand is currently high for new vaccination strategies, particularly to help combat problematic intracellular pathogens, such as HIV and malarial parasites. In the past decade, the identification of host receptors that recognize pathogen-derived nucleic acids has revealed an essential role for nucleic acid sensing in the triggering of immunity to intracellular pathogens. This Review first addresses our current understanding of the nucleic acid-sensing immune machinery. We then explain how the study of nucleic acid-sensing mechanisms not only has revealed their central role in driving the responses mediated by many current vaccines, but is also revealing how they could be harnessed for the design of new vaccines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity
  • Animals
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Mice
  • Models, Immunological
  • Nucleic Acids / immunology*
  • Receptors, Pattern Recognition / immunology
  • Toll-Like Receptors / immunology
  • Vaccination*
  • Vaccines, DNA / immunology


  • Nucleic Acids
  • Receptors, Pattern Recognition
  • Toll-Like Receptors
  • Vaccines, DNA