Cyclic G/AMP synthase (cGAS) initiates type-1 interferon responses against cytosolic double-stranded (ds)DNA, which range from antiviral gene expression to apoptosis. The mechanism by which cGAS shapes this diverse signaling landscape remains poorly defined. We find that substrate-binding and dsDNA length-dependent binding are coupled to the intrinsic dimerization equilibrium of cGAS, with its N-terminal domain potentiating dimerization. Notably, increasing the dimeric fraction by raising cGAS and substrate concentrations diminishes duplex length-dependent activation, but does not negate the requirement for dsDNA. These results demonstrate that reaction context dictates the duplex length dependence, reconciling competing claims on the role of dsDNA length in cGAS activation. Overall, our study reveals how ligand-mediated allostery positions cGAS in standby, ready to tune its signaling pathway in a switch-like fashion.
- Jungsan Sohn
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Yamuna Krishnan, University of Chicago, United States
© 2018, Hooy & Sohn
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
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Mobile genetic elements (MGEs) are a rich source of new enzymes, and conversely, understanding the activities of MGE-encoded proteins can elucidate MGE function. Here, we biochemically characterize three proteins encoded by a conserved operon carried by the Staphylococcal Cassette Chromosome (SCCmec), an MGE that confers methicillin resistance to Staphylococcus aureus, creating MRSA strains. The first of these proteins, CCPol, is an active A-family DNA polymerase. The middle protein, MP, binds tightly to CCPol and confers upon it the ability to synthesize DNA primers de novo. The CCPol-MP complex is therefore a unique primase-polymerase enzyme unrelated to either known primase family. The third protein, Cch2, is a 3’-to-5’ helicase. Cch2 additionally binds specifically to a dsDNA sequence downstream of its gene that is also a preferred initiation site for priming by CCPol-MP. Taken together, our results suggest that this is a functional replication module for SCCmec.
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