TRIM18 is a critical regulator of viral myocarditis and organ inflammation

Mingli Fang, Ao Zhang, Yong Du, Wenting Lu, Junying Wang, Laurie J. Minze, Timothy C. Cox, Xian Chang Li, Junji Xing, Zhiqiang Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: Infections by viruses including severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 could cause organ inflammations such as myocarditis, pneumonia and encephalitis. Innate immunity to viral nucleic acids mediates antiviral immunity as well as inflammatory organ injury. However, the innate immune mechanisms that control viral induced organ inflammations are unclear. Methods: To understand the role of the E3 ligase TRIM18 in controlling viral myocarditis and organ inflammation, wild-type and Trim18 knockout mice were infected with coxsackievirus B3 for inducing viral myocarditis, influenza A virus PR8 strain and human adenovirus for inducing viral pneumonia, and herpes simplex virus type I for inducing herpes simplex encephalitis. Mice survivals were monitored, and heart, lung and brain were harvested for histology and immunohistochemistry analysis. Real-time PCR, co-immunoprecipitation, immunoblot, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, luciferase assay, flow cytometry, over-expression and knockdown techniques were used to understand the molecular mechanisms of TRIM18 in regulating type I interferon (IFN) production after virus infection in this study. Results: We find that knockdown or deletion of TRIM18 in human or mouse macrophages enhances production of type I IFN in response to double strand (ds) RNA and dsDNA or RNA and DNA virus infection. Importantly, deletion of TRIM18 protects mice from viral myocarditis, viral pneumonia, and herpes simplex encephalitis due to enhanced type I IFN production in vivo. Mechanistically, we show that TRIM18 recruits protein phosphatase 1A (PPM1A) to dephosphorylate TANK binding kinase 1 (TBK1), which inactivates TBK1 to block TBK1 from interacting with its upstream adaptors, mitochondrial antiviral signaling (MAVS) and stimulator of interferon genes (STING), thereby dampening antiviral signaling during viral infections. Moreover, TRIM18 stabilizes PPM1A by inducing K63-linked ubiquitination of PPM1A. Conclusions: Our results indicate that TRIM18 serves as a negative regulator of viral myocarditis, lung inflammation and brain damage by downregulating innate immune activation induced by both RNA and DNA viruses. Our data reveal that TRIM18 is a critical regulator of innate immunity in viral induced diseases, thereby identifying a potential therapeutic target for treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number55
Pages (from-to)55
JournalJournal of Biomedical Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 31 2022


  • DNA virus
  • Inflammation
  • Innate immunity
  • MAVS
  • Myocarditis
  • RNA virus
  • TBK1
  • Type I IFN
  • Ubiquitination
  • Encephalitis, Herpes Simplex
  • Myocarditis/genetics
  • RNA
  • Humans
  • Protein Phosphatase 2C
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Animals
  • Inflammation/genetics
  • Mice
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases/genetics
  • Virus Diseases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Cell Biology


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