Various sensors that detect double-stranded RNA, presumably of viral origin, exist in eukaryotic cells and induce IFN-responses. Ongoing IFN-responses have also been documented in a variety of human autoimmune diseases including relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) but their origins remain obscure. We find increased IFN-responses in leukocytes in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis at distinct stages of disease. Moreover, endogenous RNAs isolated from blood cells of these same patients recapitulate this IFN-response if transfected into naïve cells. These endogenous RNAs are double-stranded RNAs, contain Alu and Line elements and are transcribed from leukocyte transcriptional enhancers. Thus, transcribed endogenous retrotransposon elements can co-opt pattern recognition sensors to induce IFN-responses in RRMS.
Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier Ltd.