Molecular evolutionary and structural analysis of the cytosolic DNA sensor cGAS and STING.
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.
Wu, X; Wu, F-H; Wang, X; Wang, L; Siedow, JN; Zhang, W; Pei, Z-M
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
Pubmed Central ID
Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)