Innate immune responses against viral infection, especially the induction of type I interferon, are critical for limiting the replication of the virus. Although it has been shown that DNA can induce type I interferon, to date no natural DNA ligand of a virus that induces type I interferon has been described. Here we screened the genome of murine gammaherpesvirus 68 with mutations at various genomic locations to map the region of DNA that induces type I interferon. A repetitive region termed the 100-base-pair repeat region is a ligand that is both necessary and sufficient for the viral genomic DNA to induce type I interferon. A region colinear with this ligand in the genome of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus also induces type I interferon. We have thus defined a repetitive region of the genomes of gammaherpesviruses as the first natural DNA virus ligand that induces type I interferon.
ASJC Scopus subject areas