Bacterial-induced cell fusion is a danger signal triggering cGAS-STING pathway via micronuclei formation.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Burkholderia pseudomallei 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.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Ku, JWK; Chen, Y; Lim, BJW; Gasser, S; Crasta, KC; Gan, Y-H

Published Date

  • July 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 117 / 27

Start / End Page

  • 15923 - 15934

PubMed ID

  • 32571920

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC7355030

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1091-6490

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0027-8424

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1073/pnas.2006908117


  • eng