N 6-methyladenosine RNA modification suppresses antiviral innate sensing pathways via reshaping double-stranded RNA

Nat Commun. 2021 Mar 11;12(1):1582. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-21904-y.


Double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) is a virus-encoded signature capable of triggering intracellular Rig-like receptors (RLR) to activate antiviral signaling, but whether intercellular dsRNA structural reshaping mediated by the N6-methyladenosine (m6A) modification modulates this process remains largely unknown. Here, we show that, in response to infection by the RNA virus Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV), the m6A methyltransferase METTL3 translocates into the cytoplasm to increase m6A modification on virus-derived transcripts and decrease viral dsRNA formation, thereby reducing virus-sensing efficacy by RLRs such as RIG-I and MDA5 and dampening antiviral immune signaling. Meanwhile, the genetic ablation of METTL3 in monocyte or hepatocyte causes enhanced type I IFN expression and accelerates VSV clearance. Our findings thus implicate METTL3-mediated m6A RNA modification on viral RNAs as a negative regulator for innate sensing pathways of dsRNA, and also hint METTL3 as a potential therapeutic target for the modulation of anti-viral immunity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • A549 Cells
  • Adenosine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Adenosine / genetics
  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • HEK293 Cells
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology
  • Interferon Type I / immunology
  • Methyltransferases / genetics
  • Methyltransferases / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • RAW 264.7 Cells
  • RNA, Double-Stranded / genetics*
  • RNA, Viral / genetics*
  • Signal Transduction / immunology
  • Vero Cells
  • Vesicular stomatitis Indiana virus / genetics*


  • Interferon Type I
  • RNA, Double-Stranded
  • RNA, Viral
  • N-methyladenosine
  • Methyltransferases
  • Mettl3 protein, mouse
  • Adenosine