Structures of diverse poxin cGAMP nucleases reveal a widespread role for cGAS-STING evasion in host-pathogen conflict.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Elife, Volume 9 (2020)


<p>DNA viruses in the family encode poxin enzymes that degrade the immune second messenger 2&#39;3&#39;-cGAMP to inhibit cGAS-STING immunity in mammalian cells. The closest homologs of poxin exist in the genomes of insect viruses suggesting a key mechanism of cGAS-STING evasion may have evolved outside of mammalian biology. Here we use a biochemical and structural approach to discover a broad family of 369 poxins encoded in diverse viral and animal genomes and define a prominent role for 2&#39;3&#39;-cGAMP cleavage in metazoan host-pathogen conflict. Structures of insect poxins reveal unexpected homology to flavivirus proteases and enable identification of functional self-cleaving poxins in RNA-virus polyproteins. Our data suggest widespread 2&#39;3&#39;-cGAMP signaling in insect antiviral immunity and explain how a family of cGAS-STING evasion enzymes evolved from viral proteases through gain of secondary nuclease activity. Poxin acquisition by poxviruses demonstrates the importance of environmental connections in shaping evolution of mammalian pathogens.</p>