STING (STimulator of INterferon Genes) mediates protective cellular response to microbial infection and tissue damage, but its aberrant activation can lead to autoinflammatory diseases. Upon ligand stimulation, the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) protein STING translocates to endosomes for induction of interferon production, while an alternate trafficking route delivers it directly to the autophagosomes. Here, we report that phosphorylation of a specific tyrosine residue in STING by the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is required for directing STING to endosomes, where it interacts with its downstream effector IRF3. In the absence of EGFR-mediated phosphorylation, STING rapidly transits into autophagosomes, and IRF3 activation, interferon production, and antiviral activity are compromised in cell cultures and mice, while autophagic activity is enhanced. Our observations illuminate a new connection between the tyrosine kinase activity of EGFR and innate immune functions of STING and suggest new experimental and therapeutic approaches for selective regulation of STING functions.
Keywords: EGFR; IRF3; STING signaling; endosomes; tyrosine phosphorylation.
© 2020 The Authors.