USTC Discovers the Mechanisms and Functions of Intestinal Commensal Viruses
A research first indicates that commensal viruses are essential for the homeostasis of intestinal immunity and provides the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in the reactions where commensal viruses perform functions. The article named Commensal viruses maintains intestinal intraepithelial lymphocytes via noncanonical RIG-I signalingwas published in Nature, by a team from the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) .
Gut, lung and skin microbiota contain a vast number of commensal microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses. In recent years, much research has proved that these microbiotas are an indispensable part of a human body. Much attention has been focused on commensal bacteria while the physiology role of commensal viruses is understudied.
As the first safeguard of intestinal mucosal immunity, intestinal intraepithelial lymphocytes (IELs) exert a regulatory role in the homeostasis of intestinal mucosae. The team finds out that the decline of commensal viruses results in the dramatic loss of IELs. Further investigation into cellular and molecular mechanisms demonstrates that innate RIG-I signaling in antigen-presenting cells (APCs) can recognize the RNA produced by commensal viruses and then release IL-15 to maintain the survival and proliferation of IELs. The homeostasis of IELs, in turn, helps prevent inflammation and tissue damage. The result suggests the dysbiosis of commensal viruses might account for intestinal diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, colon cancer, and intestinal infectious diseases.
An illustration of how commensal viruses promote the homeostasis of intestinal immunity
Three groups take charge of the research. They are respectively from College of Basic Medical Science of USTC, The CAS Key Laboratory of Innate Immunity and Chronic Disease and Hefei National Laboratory for Physical Science at the Microscale, and led by Prof. ZHOU Rongbin, Prof. JIANG Wei and Prof. ZHU Shu. The research is funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee, Ministry of Science and Technology of the People's Republic of China, Chinese Academy of Science, and Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China.