PYHIN1 regulates pro-inflammatory cytokine induction rather than innate immune DNA sensing in airway epithelial cells

Davide Massa, Jose A. Bengoechea, Marcin Bara, Andrew G. Bowie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Animal cells use pattern-recognition receptors (PRRs) to detect specific pathogens. Pathogen detection mounts an appropriate immune response, including interferon and cytokine induction. The intracellular PRR-signaling pathways that detect DNA viruses have been characterized, particularly in myeloid cells. In these pathways, cGMP-AMP synthase (cGAS) and the pyrin and HIN domain family member (PYHIN) protein interferon g–inducible protein 16 (IFI16) detect DNA and signal via stimulator of interferon genes protein (STING). However, although airway epithelial cells are frontline sentinels in detecting pathogens, information on how they respond to DNA viruses is limited, and the roles of PYHIN proteins in these cells are unknown. Here, we examined expression and activities of cGAS, STING, and PYHINs in human lung epithelial cells. A549 epithelial cells, commonly used for RNA-sensing studies, failed to respond to DNA because they lacked STING expression, and ectopic STING expression restored a cGAS-dependent DNA response in these cells. In contrast, NuLi-1 immortalized human bronchial epithelial cells did express STING, which was activated after DNA stimulation and mediated DNA-dependent gene induction. PYHIN1, which like IFI16 has been proposed to be a viral DNA sensor, was the only PYHIN protein expressed in both airway epithelial cell types. However, rather than having a role in DNA sensing, PYHIN1 induced proinflammatory cytokines in response to interleukin-1 (IL-1) or tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) stimulation. Of note, PYHIN1, via its HIN domain, directly induced IL-6 and TNF-α transcription, revealing that PYHIN proteins play a role in proinflammatory gene induction in airway epithelial cells.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of Biological Chemistry
Early online date26 Feb 2020
Publication statusEarly online date - 26 Feb 2020


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