NAD+-consuming enzymes in immune defense against viral infection

Biochem J. 2021 Dec 10;478(23):4071-4092. doi: 10.1042/BCJ20210181.


The COVID-19 pandemic reminds us that in spite of the scientific progress in the past century, there is a lack of general antiviral strategies. In analogy to broad-spectrum antibiotics as antibacterial agents, developing broad spectrum antiviral agents would buy us time for the development of vaccines and treatments for future viral infections. In addition to targeting viral factors, a possible strategy is to understand host immune defense mechanisms and develop methods to boost the antiviral immune response. Here we summarize the role of NAD+-consuming enzymes in the immune defense against viral infections, with the hope that a better understanding of this process could help to develop better antiviral therapeutics targeting these enzymes. These NAD+-consuming enzymes include PARPs, sirtuins, CD38, and SARM1. Among these, the antiviral function of PARPs is particularly important and will be a focus of this review. Interestingly, NAD+ biosynthetic enzymes are also implicated in immune responses. In addition, many viruses, including SARS-CoV-2 contain a macrodomain-containing protein (NSP3 in SARS-CoV-2), which serves to counteract the antiviral function of host PARPs. Therefore, NAD+ and NAD+-consuming enzymes play crucial roles in immune responses against viral infections and detailed mechanistic understandings in the future will likely facilitate the development of general antiviral strategies.

Keywords: NAD+-consuming enzymes; PARP; immune response; macrodomain; sirtuins; virus.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • ADP-ribosyl Cyclase 1 / metabolism
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Armadillo Domain Proteins / metabolism
  • COVID-19 / immunology
  • COVID-19 Drug Treatment
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • NAD / immunology
  • NAD / metabolism*
  • Poly (ADP-Ribose) Polymerase-1 / metabolism
  • Protein Domains
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Sirtuins / metabolism
  • Viral Nonstructural Proteins / metabolism
  • Virus Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Virus Diseases / immunology


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Armadillo Domain Proteins
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • SARM1 protein, human
  • Viral Nonstructural Proteins
  • NAD
  • Poly (ADP-Ribose) Polymerase-1
  • ADP-ribosyl Cyclase 1
  • Sirtuins