Aicardi-Goutières syndrome (AGS) is a hereditary autoimmune disease which overlaps clinically and pathogenetically with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and can be regarded as a monogenic variant of SLE. Both conditions are characterized by chronic activation of anti-viral type I interferon (IFN) responses. AGS can be caused by mutations in one of several genes encoding intracellular enzymes all involved in nucleic acid metabolism. Mouse models of AGS-associated defects yielded distinct phenotypes and reproduced important features of the disease. Analysis of these mutant mouse lines stimulated a new concept of autoimmunity caused by intracellular accumulations of nucleic acids, which trigger a chronic cell-intrinsic antiviral type I IFN response and thereby autoimmunity. This model is of major relevance for our understanding of SLE pathogenesis. Findings in gene-targeted mice deficient for AGS associated enzymes are summarized in this review.
Keywords: Aicardi-Goutières syndrome; SLE; interferon; nucleic acid sensing.
© 2013 British Society for Immunology.