Bacterial-induced cell fusion is a danger signal triggering cGAS-STING pathway via micronuclei formation.
is the causative agent of melioidosis, an infectious disease in the tropics and subtropics with high morbidity and mortality. The facultative intracellular bacterium induces host cell fusion through its type VI secretion system 5 (T6SS5) as an important part of its pathogenesis in mammalian hosts. This allows it to spread intercellularly without encountering extracellular host defenses. We report that bacterial T6SS5-dependent cell fusion triggers type I IFN gene expression in the host and leads to activation of the cGAMP synthase-stimulator of IFN genes (cGAS-STING) pathway, independent of bacterial ligands. Aberrant and abortive mitotic events result in the formation of micronuclei colocalizing with cGAS, which is activated by double-stranded DNA. Surprisingly, cGAS-STING activation leads to type I IFN transcription but not its production. Instead, the activation of cGAS and STING results in autophagic cell death. We also observed type I IFN gene expression, micronuclei formation, and death of chemically induced cell fusions. Therefore, we propose that the cGAS-STING pathway senses unnatural cell fusion through micronuclei formation as a danger signal, and consequently limits aberrant cell division and potential cellular transformation through autophagic death induction.
Ku, JWK; Chen, Y; Lim, BJW; Gasser, S; Crasta, KC; Gan, Y-H
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