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DNA tumor virus oncogenes antagonize the cGAS-STING DNA-sensing pathway

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Science  30 Oct 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6260, pp. 568-571
DOI: 10.1126/science.aab3291

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Viral oncogenes remove the host's STING

Cancer-causing viruses, such as the human papilloma virus (HPV) that causes cervical cancer, account for 12% of human cancers. One way they can cause cancer is by targeting tumor suppressor proteins in the host. Now Lau et al. report that DNA tumor viruses can also thwart the host's immune system. Oncogenes from HPV and human adenovirus bound to the protein STING, a key component of the cGAS-STING pathway that senses and defends against intracellular DNA. In this way, the viruses subvert the host's antiviral immunity and set up shop, which, for an unlucky few, eventually causes cancer.

Science, this issue p. 568

Abstract

Cyclic guanosine monophosphate–adenosine monophosphate synthase (cGAS) detects intracellular DNA and signals through the adapter protein STING to initiate the antiviral response to DNA viruses. Whether DNA viruses can prevent activation of the cGAS-STING pathway remains largely unknown. Here, we identify the oncogenes of the DNA tumor viruses, including E7 from human papillomavirus (HPV) and E1A from adenovirus, as potent and specific inhibitors of the cGAS-STING pathway. We show that the LXCXE motif of these oncoproteins, which is essential for blockade of the retinoblastoma tumor suppressor, is also important for antagonizing DNA sensing. E1A and E7 bind to STING, and silencing of these oncogenes in human tumor cells restores the cGAS-STING pathway. Our findings reveal a host-virus conflict that may have shaped the evolution of viral oncogenes.

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