Viral RNA recognition by LGP2 and MDA5, and activation of signaling through step-by-step conformational changes
Cytoplasmic RIG-I-like receptor (RLR) proteins in mammalian cells recognize viral RNA and initiate an antiviral response that results in IFN-β induction. Melanoma differentiation-associated protein 5 (MDA5) forms fibers along viral dsRNA and propagates an antiviral response via a signaling domain, the tandem CARD. The most enigmatic RLR, laboratory of genetics and physiology (LGP2), lacks the signaling domain but functions in viral sensing through cooperation with MDA5. However, it remains unclear how LGP2 coordinates fiber formation and subsequent MDA5 activation. We utilized biochemical and biophysical approaches to observe fiber formation and the conformation of MDA5. LGP2 facilitated MDA5 fiber assembly. LGP2 was incorporated into the fibers with an average inter-molecular distance of 32 nm, suggesting the formation of hetero-oligomers with MDA5. Furthermore, limited protease digestion revealed that LGP2 induces significant conformational changes on MDA5, promoting exposure of its CARDs. Although the fibers were efficiently dissociated by ATP hydrolysis, MDA5 maintained its active conformation to participate in downstream signaling. Our study demonstrated the coordinated actions of LGP2 and MDA5, where LGP2 acts as an MDA5 nucleator and requisite partner in the conversion of MDA5 to an active conformation. We revealed a mechanistic basis for LGP2-mediated regulation of MDA5 antiviral innate immune responses.