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HERC5-catalyzed ISGylation potentiates cGAS-mediated innate immunity

Chu, L;Qian, L;Chen, Y;Duan, S;Ding, M;Sun, W;Meng, W;Zhu, J;Wang, Q;Hao, H;Wang, C;Cui, S;

The cytosolic DNA sensor cyclic GMP-AMP synthase (cGAS) is essential to elicit type I interferon cascade response; thus, the activity of cGAS must be strictly regulated to boost the antiviral innate immunity. Here, we report that cGAS is responsible for the DNA-induced ISG15 conjugation system. The E3 HERC5 catalyzes the ISGylation of cytoplasmic cGAS at lysine 21, 187, 219, and 458, whereas Ubl carboxy-terminal hydrolase 18 removes the ISGylation of cGAS. The interaction of cGAS and HERC5 depends on the cGAS C-terminal domain and the RRC1-4 and RRC1-5 domains of HERC5. Mechanically, HERC5-catalyzed ISGylation promotes DNA-induced cGAS oligomerization and enhances cGAS enzymatic activity. Deficiency of ISGylation attenuates the downstream inflammatory gene expression induced by the cGAS-STING axis and the antiviral ability in mouse and human cells. Mice deficient in Isg15 or Herc6 are more vulnerable to herpes simplex virus 1 infection. Collectively, our study shows a positive feedback regulation of the cGAS-mediated innate immune pathway by ISGylation.