Retinoic acid-inducible gene I (RIG-I) initiates a rapid innate immune response upon detection and binding to viral ribonucleic acid (RNA). This signal activation occurs only when pathogenic RNA is identified, despite the ability of RIG-I to bind endogenous RNA while surveying the cytoplasm. Here we show that ATP binding and hydrolysis by RIG-I play a key role in the identification of viral targets and the activation of signaling. Using biochemical and cell-based assays together with mutagenesis, we show that ATP binding, and not hydrolysis, is required for RIG-I signaling on viral RNA. However, we show that ATP hydrolysis does provide an important function by recycling RIG-I and promoting its dissociation from non-pathogenic RNA. This activity provides a valuable proof-reading mechanism that enhances specificity and prevents an antiviral response upon encounter with host RNA molecules.
Keywords: RIG-I like receptor; RNA helicase; antiviral signaling; biochemistry; immunology; innate immunity; none.