Research ArticleINFECTIOUS DISEASE

ZBP1/DAI is an innate sensor of influenza virus triggering the NLRP3 inflammasome and programmed cell death pathways

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Science Immunology  12 Aug 2016:
Vol. 1, Issue 2, pp. aag2045
DOI: 10.1126/sciimmunol.aag2045

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Sensing flu

People infected with influenza get sick not only because of the presence of virus but also because of the inflammatory immune response. Now, Kuriakose et al. report that the protein ZBP1/DAI (Z-DNA binding protein 1/DNA-dependent activator of IFN regulatory factors) senses influenza A virus (IAV) and may contribute to this inflammatory pathogenesis. They found that ZBP1/DAI triggered cell death and inflammatory responses after IAV infection, and that ZBP1/DAI deficiency protected mice from IAV-related mortality. These mice had decreased inflammation and less epithelial damage than control animals. If these findings hold true in humans, ZBP1/DAI may be a host-directed target to decrease the severity of IAV pathogenesis.