Molecular evolutionary and structural analysis of the cytosolic DNA sensor cGAS and STING.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Cyclic GMP-AMP (cGAMP) synthase (cGAS) is recently identified as a cytosolic DNA sensor and generates a non-canonical cGAMP that contains G(2',5')pA and A(3',5')pG phosphodiester linkages. cGAMP activates STING which triggers innate immune responses in mammals. However, the evolutionary functions and origins of cGAS and STING remain largely elusive. Here, we carried out comprehensive evolutionary analyses of the cGAS-STING pathway. Phylogenetic analysis of cGAS and STING families showed that their origins could be traced back to a choanoflagellate Monosiga brevicollis. Modern cGAS and STING may have acquired structural features, including zinc-ribbon domain and critical amino acid residues for DNA binding in cGAS as well as carboxy terminal tail domain for transducing signals in STING, only recently in vertebrates. In invertebrates, cGAS homologs may not act as DNA sensors. Both proteins cooperate extensively, have similar evolutionary characteristics, and thus may have co-evolved during metazoan evolution. cGAS homologs and a prokaryotic dinucleotide cyclase for canonical cGAMP share conserved secondary structures and catalytic residues. Therefore, non-mammalian cGAS may function as a nucleotidyltransferase and could produce cGAMP and other cyclic dinucleotides. Taken together, assembling signaling components of the cGAS-STING pathway onto the eukaryotic evolutionary map illuminates the functions and origins of this innate immune pathway.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Wu, X; Wu, F-H; Wang, X; Wang, L; Siedow, JN; Zhang, W; Pei, Z-M

Published Date

  • July 2014

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 42 / 13

Start / End Page

  • 8243 - 8257

PubMed ID

  • 24981511

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC4117786

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1362-4962

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0305-1048

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/nar/gku569


  • eng