The helicase domain of human Dicer prevents RNAi-independent activation of antiviral and inflammatory pathways

Baldaccini M, Gaucherand L, Chane-Woon-Ming B, Messmer M, Gucciardi F, Pfeffer S.

EMBO J. 2024 Mar;43(5):806-835. 29/01/2024

PMID: 38287188


In mammalian somatic cells, the relative contribution of RNAi and the type I interferon response during viral infection is unclear. The apparent inefficiency of antiviral RNAi might be due to self-limiting properties and mitigating co-factors of the key enzyme Dicer. In particular, the helicase domain of human Dicer appears to be an important restriction factor of its activity. Here, we study the involvement of several helicase-truncated mutants of human Dicer in the antiviral response. All deletion mutants display a PKR-dependent antiviral phenotype against certain viruses, and one of them, Dicer N1, acts in a completely RNAi-independent manner. Transcriptomic analyses show that many genes from the interferon and inflammatory response pathways are upregulated in Dicer N1 expressing cells. We show that some of these genes are controlled by NF-kB and that blocking this pathway abrogates the antiviral phenotype of Dicer N1. Our findings highlight the crosstalk between Dicer, PKR, and the NF-kB pathway, and suggest that human Dicer may have repurposed its helicase domain to prevent basal activation of antiviral and inflammatory pathways.