Barrier dysfunction of airway epithelium may increase the risk for acquiring secondary infections or allergen sensitization. Both rhinovirus (RV) and polyinosinic-polycytidilic acid [poly(I·C)], a double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) mimetic, cause airway epithelial barrier dysfunction, which is reactive oxygen species (ROS) dependent, implying that dsRNA generated during RV replication is sufficient for disrupting barrier function. We also demonstrated that RV or poly(I·C)-stimulated NADPH oxidase 1 (NOX-1) partially accounts for RV-induced ROS generation. In this study, we identified a dsRNA receptor(s) contributing to RV-induced maximal ROS generation and thus barrier disruption. We demonstrate that genetic silencing of the newly discovered dsRNA receptor Nod-like receptor X-1 (NLRX-1), but not other previously described dsRNA receptors, abrogated RV-induced ROS generation and reduction of transepithelial resistance (R(T)) in polarized airway epithelial cells. In addition, both RV and poly(I·C) stimulated mitochondrial ROS, the generation of which was dependent on NLRX-1. Treatment with Mito-Tempo, an antioxidant targeted to mitochondria, abolished RV-induced mitochondrial ROS generation, reduction in R(T), and bacterial transmigration. Furthermore, RV infection increased NLRX-1 localization to the mitochondria. Additionally, NLRX-1 interacts with RV RNA and poly(I·C) in polarized airway epithelial cells. Finally, we show that NLRX-1 is also required for RV-stimulated NOX-1 expression. These findings suggest a novel mechanism by which RV stimulates generation of ROS, which is required for disruption of airway epithelial barrier function.
Rhinovirus (RV), a virus responsible for a majority of common colds, disrupts the barrier function of the airway epithelium by increasing reactive oxygen species (ROS). Poly(I·C), a double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) mimetic, also causes ROS-dependent barrier disruption, implying that the dsRNA intermediate generated during RV replication is sufficient for this process. Here, we demonstrate that both RV RNA and poly(I·C) interact with NLRX-1 (a newly discovered dsRNA receptor) and stimulate mitochondrial ROS. We show for the first time that NLRX-1 is primarily expressed in the cytoplasm and at the apical surface rather than in the mitochondria and that NLRX-1 translocates to mitochondria following RV infection. Together, our results suggest a novel mechanism for RV-induced barrier disruption involving NLRX-1 and mitochondrial ROS. Although ROS is necessary for optimal viral clearance, if not neutralized efficiently, it may increase susceptibility to secondary infections and alter innate immune responses to subsequently inhaled pathogens, allergens, and other environmental factors.