As a result of a viral infection, viral genomes are not only recognized by RIG-I, but also lead to the activation of RNase L, which cleaves cellular RNA to generate the endogenous RIG-I ligand (eRL). The eRL was previously identified as a specific sequence derived from the internal transcribed spacer region 2, which bears a 2′3′ cyclic phosphate instead of the common 5′ triphosphate. By now, the generation of the eRL and its immunostimulatory effect were shown both in vitro and in reporter systems. In this work, we aimed to elucidate whether the eRL is also generated in Influenza A (IAV) and vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) infected cells. RNA was extracted from virus-infected cells and used for immunostimulations as well as specific PCR-strategies to detect eRL cleavage. We show that the eRL is generated in IAV infected HEK293 cells, but we could not detect specific eRL fragments in VSV infected cells. Further, RIG-I mediated IFN-response depends not only on viral genomes but also on the eRL, as immunostimulatory properties remain present under 5′triphosphate degrading conditions. In summary, we prove the IAV infection induced eRL generation in HEK293 cells, amplifying the innate immune response.
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