The cGAS-cGAMP-STING Pathway: A Molecular Link Between Immunity and Metabolism

It has been appreciated for many years that there is a strong association between metabolism and immunity in advanced metazoan organisms. Distinct immune signatures and signaling pathways have been found not only in immune but also in metabolic cells. The newly discovered DNA-sensing cGAS-cGAMP-STING pathway mediates type I interferon inflammatory responses in immune cells to defend against viral and bacterial infections. Recent studies show that this pathway is also activated by host DNA aberrantly localized in the cytosol, contributing to increased sterile inflammation, insulin resistance, and the development of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Potential interactions of the cGAS-cGAMP-STING pathway with mTORC1 signaling, autophagy, and apoptosis have been reported, suggesting an important role of the cGAS-cGAMP-STING pathway in the networking and coordination of these important biological processes. However, the regulation, mechanism of action, and tissue-specific role of the cGAS-cGAMP-STING signaling pathway in metabolic disorders remain largely elusive. It is also unclear whether targeting this signaling pathway is effective for the prevention and treatment of obesity-induced metabolic diseases. Answers to these questions would provide new insights for developing effective therapeutic interventions for metabolic diseases such as insulin resistance, NAFLD, and type 2 diabetes.