Research Article

Phosphorylation and chromatin tethering prevent cGAS activation during mitosis

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Science  04 Feb 2021:
eabc5386
DOI: 10.1126/science.abc5386

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Abstract

The cyclic GMP-AMP synthase (cGAS) detects microbial and self-DNA in the cytosol to activate immune and inflammatory programs. cGAS also associates with chromatin especially after nuclear envelope breakdown when cells enter mitosis. How cGAS is regulated during cell cycle transition is not clear. Here we found direct biochemical evidence that cGAS activity was selectively suppressed during mitosis, and uncovered two parallel mechanisms underlying this suppression. First, cGAS was hyperphosphorylated at the N terminus by mitotic kinases, including Aurora kinase B. The N terminus of cGAS was critical for sensing nuclear chromatin, but not mitochondrial DNA. Chromatin sensing was blocked by hyperphosphorylation. Secondly, oligomerization of chromatin-bound cGAS, which is required for its activation,was prevented. Together, these mechanisms ensure that cGAS is inactive when associated with chromatin during mitosis, which may help to prevent autoimmune reaction.

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