Structures and Mechanisms in the cGAS-STING Innate Immunity Pathway

Immunity. 2020 Jul 14;53(1):43-53. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2020.05.013.


Besides its role as the blueprint of life, DNA can also alert the cell to the presence of microbial pathogens as well as damaged or malignant cells. A major sensor of DNA that triggers the innate immune response is cyclic guanosine monophosphate (GMP)-adenosine monophosphate (AMP) (cGAMP) synthase (cGAS), which produces the second messenger cGAMP. cGAMP activates stimulator of interferon genes (STING), which activates a signaling cascade leading to the production of type I interferons and other immune mediators. Recent research has demonstrated an expanding role of the cGAS-cGAMP-STING pathway in many physiological and pathological processes, including host defense against microbial infections, anti-tumor immunity, cellular senescence, autophagy, and autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Biochemical and structural studies have elucidated the mechanism of signal transduction in the cGAS pathway at the atomic resolution. This review focuses on the structural and mechanistic insights into the roles of cGAS and STING in immunity and diseases revealed by these recent studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • DNA, Bacterial / immunology*
  • DNA, Viral / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology*
  • Interferon Type I / immunology
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Nucleotides, Cyclic / metabolism
  • Nucleotidyltransferases / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / immunology


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Viral
  • Interferon Type I
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Nucleotides, Cyclic
  • STING1 protein, human
  • cyclic guanosine monophosphate-adenosine monophosphate
  • Nucleotidyltransferases
  • cGAS protein, human