Despite its being one of the most highly studied viruses, there are still many unknowns when it comes to HIV, including how it triggers the innate immune response. Gao et al. now demonstrate that the DNA sensor cyclic GMP-AMP synthase (cGAS) detects HIV infection. Reverse-transcribed HIV DNA triggers cGAS and downstream activation of antiviral immunity. Detection of HIV, as well as the retroviruses simian immunodeficiency virus and murine leukemia virus, was abrogated in mouse and human cells deficient in cGAS, suggesting that cGAS may be a critical activator of innate immunity in response to retroviral infection.
D. Gao, J. Wu, Y.-T. Wu, F. Du, C. Aroh, N. Yan, L. Sun, Z. J. Chen, Cyclic GMP-AMP synthase is an innate immune sensor of HIV and other retroviruses. Science 341, 903–906 (2013). [Abstract] [Full Text]