Confocal imaging of double-stranded RNA and pattern recognition receptors in negative-sense RNA virus infection

Elizabeth Mateer, Slobodan Paessler, Cheng Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Double-stranded (ds) RNA is produced as a replicative intermediate during RNA virus infection. Recognition of dsRNA by host pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) such as the retinoic acid (RIG-I) like receptors (RLRs) RIG-I and melanoma differentiation-associated protein 5 (MDA-5) leads to the induction of the innate immune response. The formation and intracellular distribution of dsRNA in positive-sense RNA virus infection has been well characterized by microscopy. Many negative-sense RNA viruses, including some arenaviruses, trigger the innate immune response during infection. However, negative-sense RNA viruses were thought to produce low levels of dsRNA, which hinders the imaging study of PRR recognition of viral dsRNA. Additionally, infection experiments with highly pathogenic arenaviruses must be performed in high containment biosafety level facilities (BSL-4). The interaction between viral RNA and PRRs for highly pathogenic RNA virus is largely unknown due to the additional technical challenges that researchers need to face in the BSL-4 facilities. Recently, a monoclonal antibody (Mab) (clone 9D5) originally used for pan-enterovirus detection has been found to specifically detect dsRNA with a higher sensitivity than the traditional J2 or K1 anti-dsRNA antibodies. Herein, by utilizing the 9D5 antibody, we describe a confocal microscopy protocol that has been used successfully to visualize dsRNA, viral protein and PRR simultaneously in individual cells infected by arenavirus. The protocol is also suitable for imaging studies of dsRNA and PRR distribution in pathogenic arenavirus infected cells in BSL4 facilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere59095
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number143
StatePublished - Jan 2019


  • Arenavirus
  • Confocal microscopy
  • Double-stranded RNA
  • Immunology and infection
  • Issue 143
  • Junin virus
  • MDA-5
  • Negative-sense RNA virus
  • Pattern recognition receptors
  • RIG-I

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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