The vertebrate protein STING, an intracellular sensor of cyclic dinucleotides, is critical to the innate immune response and the induction of type I interferon during pathogenic infection. Here, we show that a STING ortholog (dmSTING) exists in Drosophila, which, similar to vertebrate STING, associates with cyclic dinucleotides to initiate an innate immune response. Following infection with Listeria monocytogenes, dmSTING activates an innate immune response via activation of the NF-κB transcription factor Relish, part of the immune deficiency (IMD) pathway. DmSTING-mediated activation of the immune response reduces the levels of Listeria-induced lethality and bacterial load in the host. Of significance, dmSTING triggers an innate immune response in the absence of a known functional cyclic guanosine monophosphate (GMP)-AMP synthase (cGAS) ortholog in the fly. Together, our results demonstrate that STING is an evolutionarily conserved antimicrobial effector between flies and mammals, and it comprises a key component of host defense against pathogenic infection in Drosophila.
Keywords: CG7194; IMD; Listeria monocytogenes; NFkB; Relish; antimicrobial peptide; cGAS; cricket paralysis virus; gene set enrichment analysis; invertebrate iridescent virus 6.
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