Clathrin-associated AP-1 controls termination of STING signalling.

Nature (2022-10-20)
Ying Liu, Pengbiao Xu, Sophie Rivara, Chong Liu, Jonathan Ricci, Xuefeng Ren, James H Hurley, Andrea Ablasser

Stimulator of interferon genes (STING) functions downstream of cyclic GMP-AMP synthase in DNA sensing or as a direct receptor for bacterial cyclic dinucleotides and small molecules to activate immunity during infection, cancer and immunotherapy1-10. Precise regulation of STING is essential to ensure balanced immune responses and prevent detrimental autoinflammation11-16. After activation, STING, a transmembrane protein, traffics from the endoplasmic reticulum to the Golgi, where its phosphorylation by the protein kinase TBK1 enables signal transduction17-20. The mechanism that ends STING signalling at the Golgi remains unknown. Here we show that adaptor protein complex 1 (AP-1) controls the termination of STING-dependent immune activation. We find that AP-1 sorts phosphorylated STING into clathrin-coated transport vesicles for delivery to the endolysosomal system, where STING is degraded21. We identify a highly conserved dileucine motif in the cytosolic C-terminal tail (CTT) of STING that, together with TBK1-dependent CTT phosphorylation, dictates the AP-1 engagement of STING. A cryo-electron microscopy structure of AP-1 in complex with phosphorylated STING explains the enhanced recognition of TBK1-activated STING. We show that suppression of AP-1 exacerbates STING-induced immune responses. Our results reveal a structural mechanism of negative regulation of STING and establish that the initiation of signalling is inextricably associated with its termination to enable transient activation of immunity.

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