Indexed on: 27 Oct '15Published on: 27 Oct '15Published in: Protein & Cell
Mitochondrion is known as the energy factory of the cell, which is also a unique mammalian organelle and considered to be evolved from aerobic prokaryotes more than a billion years ago. Mitochondrial DNA, similar to that of its bacterial ancestor’s, consists of a circular loop and contains significant number of unmethylated DNA as CpG islands. The innate immune system plays an important role in the mammalian immune response. Recent research has demonstrated that mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) activates several innate immune pathways involving TLR9, NLRP3 and STING signaling, which contributes to the signaling platforms and results in effector responses. In addition to facilitating antibacterial immunity and regulating antiviral signaling, mounting evidence suggests that mtDNA contributes to inflammatory diseases following cellular damage and stress. Therefore, in addition to its well-appreciated roles in cellular metabolism and energy production,mtDNA appears to function as a key member in the innate immune system. Here, we highlight the emerging roles of mtDNA in innate immunity.