PMID: 32911481
Zhao B, Xu P, Rowlett CM, Jing T, Shinde O, Lei Y, West AP, Liu WR, Li P
The Molecular Basis of Tight Nuclear Tethering and Inactivation of cGAS.
Nature. 2020 Sep 10. pii: 10.1038/s41586-020-2749-z. doi:, 10.1038/s41586-020-2749-z.
Pathogen-derived nucleic acids induce potent innate immune responses(1-6). Cyclic GMP-AMP synthase (cGAS) is a dsDNA sensor that catalyzes the synthesis of a cyclic dinucleotide cGAMP, which mediates the induction of type I interferons through the STING-TBK1-IRF3 signaling axis(7-11). It was widely accepted that cGAS is not reactive to self-DNA due to its cytosolic localization(2,12,13). However, recent studies revealed that cGAS is mostly localized in the nucleus and tight nuclear tethering keeps cGAS inactive(14-18). Here we show that cGAS binds to nucleosomes with nanomolar affinity and nucleosome binding potently inhibits the catalytic activity of cGAS. To elucidate the molecular basis of cGAS inactivation by nuclear tethering, we have determined the structure of mouse cGAS bound to human nucleosome by cryo-EM. The structure shows that cGAS binds to a negatively charged acidic patch formed by histone H2A and H2B via its second DNA binding site(19). High affinity nucleosome binding blocks dsDNA binding and keeps cGAS in an inactive conformation. Mutations of cGAS that disrupt nucleosome binding dramatically affect cGAS mediated signaling in cells.