Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a primary etiological agent of childhood lower respiratory tract disease. Molecular patterns induced by active infection trigger a coordinated retinoic acid-inducible gene I (RIG-I)-Toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling response to induce inflammatory cytokines and antiviral mucosal interferons. Recently, we discovered a nuclear oxidative stress-sensitive pathway mediated by the DNA damage response protein, ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM), in cytokine-induced NF-κB/RelA Ser 276 phosphorylation. Here we observe that ATM silencing results in enhanced single-strand RNA (ssRNA) replication of RSVand Sendai virus, due to decreased expression and secretion of type I and III interferons (IFNs), despite maintenance of IFN regulatory factor 3 (IRF3)-dependent IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs). In addition to enhanced oxidative stress, RSV replication enhances foci of phosphorylated histone 2AX variant (γH2AX), Ser 1981 phosphorylation of ATM, and IKKγ/ NEMO-dependent ATM nuclear export, indicating activation of the DNA damage response. ATM-deficient cells show defective RSV-induced mitogen and stress-activated kinase 1 (MSK-1) Ser 376 phosphorylation and reduced RelA Ser 276 phosphorylation, whose formation is required for IRF7 expression. We observe that RelA inducibly binds the native IFN regulatory factor 7 (IRF7) promoter in an ATM-dependent manner, and IRF7 inducibly binds to the endogenous retinoic acid-inducible gene I (RIG-I) promoter. Ectopic IRF7 expression restores RIG-I expression and type I/III IFN expression in ATM-silenced cells. We conclude that paramyxoviruses trigger the DNA damage response, a pathway required for MSK1 activation of phospho Ser 276 RelA formation to trigger the IRF7-RIG-I amplification loop necessary for mucosal IFN production. These data provide the molecular pathogenesis for defects in the cellular innate immunity of patients with homozygous ATM mutations.
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