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    cGAS, an innate immune sensor of cellular stress, recognizes double-stranded DNA mislocalized in the cytosol upon infection, mitochondrial stress, DNA damage, or malignancy. Early models suggested that cytosolic localization of cGAS prevents autoreactivity to nuclear and mitochondrial self-DNA, but this paradigm has shifted in light of recent findings of cGAS as a predominantly nuclear protein tightly bound to chromatin. This has raised the question how nuclear cGAS is kept inactive while being surrounded by chromatin, and what function nuclear localization of cGAS may serve in the first place? Cryo-EM structures have revealed that cGAS interacts with nucleosomes, the minimal units of chromatin, mainly via histones H2A/H2B, and that these protein-protein interactions block cGAS from DNA binding and thus prevent autoreactivity. Here, we discuss the biological implications of nuclear cGAS and its interaction with chromatin, including various mechanisms for nuclear cGAS inhibition, release of chromatin-bound cGAS, regulation of different cGAS pools in the cell, and chromatin structure/chromatin protein effects on cGAS activation leading to cGAS-induced autoimmunity. © 2021 The Authors. Published under the terms of the CC BY NC ND 4.0 license.


    Carina C de Oliveira Mann, Karl-Peter Hopfner. Nuclear cGAS: guard or prisoner? The EMBO journal. 2021 Aug 16;40(16):e108293

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    PMID: 34250619

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