RNA editing, ADAR1, and the innate immune response

Qingde Wang*, Xiaoni Li, Ruofan Qi, Timothy Billiar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


RNA editing, particularly A-to-I RNA editing, has been shown to play an essential role in mammalian embryonic development and tissue homeostasis, and is implicated in the pathogenesis of many diseases including skin pigmentation disorder, autoimmune and inflammatory tissue injury, neuron degeneration, and various malignancies. A-to-I RNA editing is carried out by a small group of enzymes, the adenosine deaminase acting on RNAs (ADARs). Only three members of this protein family, ADAR1–3, exist in mammalian cells. ADAR3 is a catalytically null enzyme and the most significant function of ADAR2 was found to be in editing on the neuron receptor GluR-B mRNA. ADAR1, however, has been shown to play more significant roles in biological and pathological conditions. Although there remains much that is not known about how ADAR1 regulates cellular function, recent findings point to regulation of the innate immune response as an important function of ADAR1. Without appropriate RNA editing by ADAR1, endogenous RNA transcripts stimulate cytosolic RNA sensing receptors and therefore activate the IFN-inducing signaling pathways. Overactivation of innate immune pathways can lead to tissue injury and dysfunction. However, obvious gaps in our knowledge persist as to how ADAR1 regulates innate immune responses through RNA editing. Here, we review critical findings from ADAR1 mechanistic studies focusing on its regulatory function in innate immune responses and identify some of the important unanswered questions in the field.

Original languageEnglish
Article number41
Issue number1
StatePublished - 18 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • ADAR1
  • Innate immune
  • RNA editing
  • RNA sensing


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