Viral and endogenous double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) is a potent trigger for programmed RNA degradation by the 2-5A/RNase L complex in cells of all mammals. This 2-5A-mediated decay (2-5AMD) is a conserved stress response switching global protein synthesis from homeostasis to production of interferons (IFNs). To understand this mechanism, we examined 2-5AMD in human cells and found that it triggers polysome collapse characteristic of inhibited translation initiation. We determined that translation initiation complexes and ribosomes purified from translation-arrested cells remain functional. However, spike-in RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) revealed cell-wide decay of basal mRNAs accompanied by rapid accumulation of mRNAs encoding innate immune proteins. Our data attribute this 2-5AMD evasion to better stability of defense mRNAs and positive feedback in the IFN response amplified by RNase L-resistant molecules. We conclude that 2-5AMD and transcription act in concert to refill mammalian cells with defense mRNAs, thereby "prioritizing" the synthesis of innate immune proteins.
Keywords: RNase L; dsRNA; innate immunity; interferon; mRNA decay; reprogramming; translation.
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