How the central innate immune protein, STING, is activated by its ligands remains unknown. Here, using structural biology and biochemistry, we report that the metazoan second messenger 2'3'-cGAMP induces closing of the human STING homodimer and release of the STING C-terminal tail, which exposes a polymerization interface on the STING dimer and leads to the formation of disulfide-linked polymers via cysteine residue 148. Disease-causing hyperactive STING mutations either flank C148 and depend on disulfide formation or reside in the C-terminal tail binding site and cause constitutive C-terminal tail release and polymerization. Finally, bacterial cyclic-di-GMP induces an alternative active STING conformation, activates STING in a cooperative manner, and acts as a partial antagonist of 2'3'-cGAMP signaling. Our insights explain the tight control of STING signaling given varying background activation signals and provide a therapeutic hypothesis for autoimmune syndrome treatment.
Keywords: 2′3′-cGAMP; SAVI; STING; STING associated vasculopathy with onset in infancy; TMEM173; cGAMP; cyclic-di-AMP; cyclic-di-GMP; cyclic-dinucleotide; innate immunity.
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