Type I IFN production is one of the hallmarks of host innate immune responses upon virus infection. Whilst most respiratory viruses carry IFN antagonists, reports on human metapneumovirus (HMPV) have been conflicting. Using deep sequencing, we have demonstrated that HMPV particles accumulate excessive amounts of defective interfering RNA (DIs) rapidly upon in vitro passage, and that these are associated with IFN induction. Importantly, the DIs were edited extensively; up to 70 % of the original A and T residues had mutated to G or C, respectively. Such high editing rates of viral RNA have not, to our knowledge, been reported before. Bioinformatics and PCR assays indicated that adenosine deaminase acting on RNA (ADAR) was the most likely editing enzyme. HMPV thus has an unusually high propensity to generate DIs, which are edited at an unprecedented high frequency. The conflicting published data on HMPV IFN induction and antagonism are probably explained by DIs in virus stocks. The interaction of HMPV DIs with the RNA-editing machinery and IFN responses warrants further investigation
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