The mammalian testis is an immunoprivileged organ where local tissue-specific cells acquire an effective innate immune function against invading microbial pathogens. The present study demonstrated that mouse Leydig cells had innate antiviral activities in response to viral DNA challenge through p204 activation. The DNA sensor p204 and its signaling adaptor stimulator of interferon (IFN) genes (STING) were constitutively expressed in Leydig cells. Synthetic herpes simplex virus DNA analog (HSV60), a p204 agonist, induced the expression of type I IFNs and various antiviral proteins, including IFN-stimulating gene 15, 2′5′-oligoadenylate synthetase, and Mx glutamyl transpeptidase 1, in Leydig cells. The HSV60-induced innate antiviral response in Leydig cells was significantly reduced by inhibiting p204 signaling using specific small interfering RNAs targeting p204 and Sting. The antiviral response did not affect steroidogenesis in Leydig cells. These results indicated a novel mechanism underlying the testicular innate antiviral response.
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Vol. 91 • No. 1