DNA damage can be sensed as a danger-associated molecular pattern by the innate immune system. Here we find that keratinocytes and other human cells mount an innate immune response within hours of etoposide-induced DNA damage, which involves the DNA sensing adaptor STING but is independent of the cytosolic DNA receptor cGAS. This non-canonical activation of STING is mediated by the DNA binding protein IFI16, together with the DNA damage response factors ATM and PARP-1, resulting in the assembly of an alternative STING signaling complex that includes the tumor suppressor p53 and the E3 ubiquitin ligase TRAF6. TRAF6 catalyzes the formation of K63-linked ubiquitin chains on STING, leading to the activation of the transcription factor NF-κB and the induction of an alternative STING-dependent gene expression program. We propose that STING acts as a signaling hub that coordinates a transcriptional response depending on its mode of activation.
Keywords: DNA damage; IFI16; STING; TRAF6; etoposide; innate immunity; interferon; p53; ubiquitin.
Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.