Université de Strasbourg, CNRS UPR9022, Institut de biologie moléculaire et cellulaire, Strasbourg, France
A key aspect of antiviral immunity is the distinction between “self” and “non-self” components. This distinction can be established through the detection of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA), a common sign of viral infection, by cytosolic RNA helicases. Depending on the organism, two major antiviral pathways can be induced by dsRNA helicases: RNA interference (RNAi) and interferon (IFN) signaling. In the RNAi pathway, dsRNAs are recognized by a Dicer protein, and are then used for the sequence-dependent recognition and subsequent degradation of the complementary viral RNAs. In the IFN signaling pathway, dsRNAs are recognized by a RIG-like receptor (RLR), which induces a signaling cascade in order to induce the expression of IFNs, cytokines and chemokines. In this review, we discuss the RNA features that can be used by the cell to detect a viral infection, the two aforementioned types of helicase-mediated sensing, as well as some viral escape mechanisms developed to avoid recognition.