STING cyclic dinucleotide sensing originated in bacteria.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Nature (2020)


<p>Stimulator of interferon genes (STING) is a receptor in human cells that senses foreign cyclic dinucleotides released during bacterial infection and endogenous cyclic GMP-AMP signalling during viral infection and antitumour immunity. STING shares no structural homology with other known signalling proteins, limiting functional analysis and preventing explanation of the origin of cyclic dinucleotide signalling in mammalian innate immunity. Here we discover functional STING homologues encoded within prokaryotic defence islands and reveal a conserved mechanism of signal activation. Crystal structures of bacterial STING define a minimal homodimeric scaffold that selectively responds to c-di-GMP synthesized by a neighbouring cGAS/DncV-like nucleotidyltransferase (CD-NTase) enzyme. Bacterial STING domains couple cyclic dinucleotide recognition with protein filament formation to drive TIR effector domain oligomerization and rapid NAD cleavage. We reconstruct the evolutionary events following acquisition of STING into metazoan innate immunity and determine the structure of a full-length TIR-STING fusion from the Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas. Comparative structural analysis demonstrates how metazoan-specific additions to the core STING scaffold enabled a switch from direct effector function to regulation of antiviral transcription. Together, our results explain the mechanism of STING-dependent signalling and reveal conservation of a functional cGAS-STING pathway in prokaryotic bacteriophage defence.</p>

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