Programmed necrosis, like apoptosis, eliminates pathogen-infected cells as a component of host defense. Receptor-interacting protein kinase (RIP) 3 (also called RIPK3) mediates RIP homotypic interaction motif (RHIM)-dependent programmed necrosis induced by murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) infection or death receptor activation and suppressed by the MCMV-encoded viral inhibitor of RIP activation (vIRA). We find that interferon-independent expression of DNA-dependent activator of interferon regulatory factors (DAI, also known as ZBP1 or DLM-1) sensitizes cells to virus-induced necrosis and that DAI knockdown or knockout cells are resistant to this death pathway. Importantly, as with RIP3 -/- mice, vIRA mutant MCMV pathogenesis is restored in DAI -/- mice, consistent with a DAI-RIP3 complex being the natural target of vIRA. Thus, DAI interacts with RIP3 to mediate virus-induced necrosis analogous to the RIP1-RIP3 complex controlling death receptor-induced necroptosis. These studies unveil a role for DAI as the RIP3 partner mediating virus-induced necrosis.
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