Publication date: Sep 20, 2023
Bats (order Chiroptera) are a major reservoir for emerging and re-emerging zoonotic viruses. Their tolerance toward highly pathogenic human viruses led to the hypothesis that bats may possess an especially active antiviral interferon (IFN) system. Here, we cloned and functionally characterized the virus RNA sensor, retinoic acid-inducible gene-I (RIG-I), from the “microbat” Myotis daubentonii (suborder Yangochiroptera) and the “megabat” Rousettus aegyptiacus (suborder Yinpterochiroptera) and compared them to the human ortholog. Our data show that the overall sequence and domain organization are highly conserved and that all three RIG-I orthologs can mediate a similar IFN induction in response to viral RNA at 37^0 and 39^0C but not at 30^0C. Like human RIG-I, bat RIG-Is were optimally activated by double stranded RNA containing a 5′-triphosphate end and required mitochondrial antiviral-signaling protein (MAVS) for antiviral signaling. Moreover, the RIG-I orthologs of humans and of R. aegyptiacus, but not of M. daubentonii, enable innate immune sensing of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Our results thus show that microbats and megabats express a RIG-I that is not substantially different from the human counterpart with respect to function, temperature dependency, antiviral signaling, and RNA ligand properties, and that human and megabat RIG-I are able to sense SARS-CoV-2 infection. IMPORTANCE A common hypothesis holds that bats (order Chiroptera) are outstanding reservoirs for zoonotic viruses because of a special antiviral interferon (IFN) system. However, functional studies about key components of the bat IFN system are rare. RIG-I is a cellular sensor for viral RNA signatures that activates the antiviral signaling chain to induce IFN. We cloned and functionally characterized RIG-I genes from two species of the suborders Yangochiroptera and Yinpterochiroptera. The bat RIG-Is were conserved in their sequence and domain organization, and similar to human RIG-I in (i) mediating virus- and IFN-activated gene expression, (ii) antiviral signaling, (iii) temperature dependence, and (iv) recognition of RNA ligands. Moreover, RIG-I of Rousettus aegyptiacus (suborder Yinpterochiroptera) and of humans were found to recognize SARS-CoV-2 infection. Thus, members of both bat suborders encode RIG-Is that are comparable to their human counterpart. The ability of bats to harbor zoonotic viruses therefore seems due to other features.
|Zoonotic||retinoic acid-inducible gene-I|