Viral Evasion of RIG-I-Like Receptor-Mediated Immunity through Dysregulation of Ubiquitination and ISGylation

Viruses. 2021 Jan 26;13(2):182. doi: 10.3390/v13020182.


Viral dysregulation or suppression of innate immune responses is a key determinant of virus-induced pathogenesis. Important sensors for the detection of virus infection are the RIG-I-like receptors (RLRs), which, in turn, are antagonized by many RNA viruses and DNA viruses. Among the different escape strategies are viral mechanisms to dysregulate the post-translational modifications (PTMs) that play pivotal roles in RLR regulation. In this review, we present the current knowledge of immune evasion by viral pathogens that manipulate ubiquitin- or ISG15-dependent mechanisms of RLR activation. Key viral strategies to evade RLR signaling include direct targeting of ubiquitin E3 ligases, active deubiquitination using viral deubiquitinating enzymes (DUBs), and the upregulation of cellular DUBs that regulate RLR signaling. Additionally, we summarize emerging new evidence that shows that enzymes of certain coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of the current COVID-19 pandemic, actively deISGylate key molecules in the RLR pathway to escape type I interferon (IFN)-mediated antiviral responses. Finally, we discuss the possibility of targeting virally-encoded proteins that manipulate ubiquitin- or ISG15-mediated innate immune responses for the development of new antivirals and vaccines.

Keywords: ISG15; innate immunity; interferon; ubiquitin; viral evasion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Coronavirus 3C Proteases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Coronavirus 3C Proteases / metabolism
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • DEAD Box Protein 58 / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immune Evasion*
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Receptors, Immunologic
  • SARS-CoV-2 / immunology
  • SARS-CoV-2 / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Ubiquitin / metabolism*
  • Ubiquitins / metabolism*
  • Virus Diseases / immunology
  • Virus Diseases / metabolism
  • Virus Diseases / virology
  • Viruses / immunology*
  • Viruses / metabolism


  • Cytokines
  • Receptors, Immunologic
  • Ubiquitin
  • Ubiquitins
  • ISG15 protein, human
  • 3C-like proteinase, SARS-CoV-2
  • Coronavirus 3C Proteases
  • RIGI protein, human
  • DEAD Box Protein 58