The plasma membrane and all membrane-bound organelles except for the Golgi and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) are equipped with pattern-recognition molecules to sense microbes or their products and induce innate immunity for host defense. Here, we report that inositol-requiring-1α (IRE1α), an ER protein that signals in the unfolded protein response (UPR), is activated to induce inflammation by binding a portion of cholera toxin as it co-opts the ER to cause disease. Other known UPR transducers, including the IRE1α-dependent transcription factor XBP1, are dispensable for this signaling. The inflammatory response depends instead on the RNase activity of IRE1α to degrade endogenous mRNA, a process termed regulated IRE1α-dependent decay (RIDD) of mRNA. The mRNA fragments produced engage retinoic-acid inducible gene 1 (RIG-I), a cytosolic sensor of RNA viruses, to activate NF-κB and interferon pathways. We propose IRE1α provides for a generalized mechanism of innate immune surveillance originating within the ER lumen.
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