Stimulator of interferon genes (STING) is activated by binding to cyclic dinucleotides (CDNs), which results in potent cytokine production. CDNs are produced by certain intracellular bacteria and are generated by the cyclic GMP–AMP synthase (cGAS) following binding to cytosolic DNA species, such as viral DNA.
STING-inducible innate immune molecules are essential for protection of the host against pathogens and are important for the stimulation of adaptive immunity.
Self-DNA, for example from the nucleus or mitochondria, can leak into the cytosolic compartment and stimulate STING activity to cause autoinflammatory disease. Certain mutations in the gene encoding STING can cause the protein to become permanently active and similarly induce autoinflammatory responses.
STING can be activated in phagocytes by DNA released from engulfed tumour cells and drive the production of cytokines necessary for generating robust antitumour T cell responses.
DNA-damaging agents can cause the release of nuclear DNA into the cytosol that stimulates STING-dependent cytokine production and phagocyte infiltration. This may be essential for eliminating damaged cells and generating antitumour T cell responses, but chronic stimulation may also promote inflammation-aggravated cancer.
STING agonists exert potent antitumour activity and may be effective, novel adjuvants in vaccine formulations. In contrast, inhibitors of STING signalling may be beneficial for the treatment of autoinflammatory disease, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), Aicardi–Goutières syndrome (AGS) and STING-associated vasculopathy with onset in infancy (SAVI).
Activation of STING (stimulator of interferon genes) by cytosolic aberrant DNA species or cyclic dinucleotides triggers transcription of numerous innate immune genes. In this Review, the author summarizes recent insights into the regulation of STING signalling and its role in autoinflammatory disease and cancer.
The rapid detection of microbial agents is essential for the effective initiation of host defence mechanisms against infection. Understanding how cells detect cytosolic DNA to trigger innate immune gene transcription has important implications — not only for comprehending the immune response to pathogens but also for elucidating the causes of autoinflammatory disease involving the sensing of self-DNA and the generation of effective antitumour adaptive immunity. The discovery of the STING (stimulator of interferon genes)-controlled innate immune pathway, which mediates cytosolic DNA-induced signalling events, has recently provided important insights into these processes, opening the way for the development of novel immunization regimes, as well as therapies to treat autoinflammatory disease and cancer.