DNA-PK is a DNA sensor for IRF-3-dependent innate immunity
Ferguson BJ., Mansur DS., Peters NE., Ren H., Smith GL.
Innate immunity is the first immunological defence against pathogens. During virus infection detection of nucleic acids is crucial for the inflammatory response. Here we identify DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK) as a DNA sensor that activates innate immunity. We show that DNA-PK acts as a pattern recognition receptor, binding cytoplasmic DNA and triggering the transcription of type I interferon (IFN), cytokine and chemokine genes in a manner dependent on IFN regulatory factor 3 (IRF-3), TANK-binding kinase 1 (TBK1) and stimulator of interferon genes (STING). Both cells and mice lacking DNA-PKcs show attenuated cytokine responses to both DNA and DNA viruses but not to RNA or RNA virus infection. DNA-PK has well-established functions in the DNA repair and V(D)J recombination, hence loss of DNA-PK leads to severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). However, we now define a novel anti-microbial function for DNA-PK, a finding with implications for host defence, vaccine development and autoimmunity.