Induction of interferon and cell death in response to cytosolic DNA in chicken macrophages

Nazarii Vitak, David A Hume, Keith J Chappell, David P Sester, Katryn J Stacey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Responses to cytosolic DNA can protect against both infectious organisms and the mutagenic effect of DNA integration. Recognition of invading DNA is likely to be fundamental to eukaryotic cellular life, but has been described only in mammals. Introduction of DNA into chicken macrophages induced type I interferon mRNA via a pathway conserved with mammals, requiring the receptor cGAS and the signalling protein STING. A second pathway of cytosolic DNA recognition in mammalian macrophages, initiated by absent in melanoma 2 (AIM2), results in rapid inflammasome-mediated pyroptotic cell death. AIM2 is restricted to mammals. Nevertheless, chicken macrophages underwent lytic cell death within 15 min of DNA transfection. The mouse AIM2-mediated response requires double stranded DNA, but chicken cell death was maintained with denatured DNA. This appears to be a novel form of rapid necrotic cell death, which we propose is an ancient response rendered redundant in mammalian macrophages by the appearance of the AIM2 inflammasome. The retention of these cytosolic DNA responses through evolution, with both conserved and non-conserved mechanisms, suggests a fundamental importance in cellular defence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-152
JournalDevelopmental and Comparative Immunology
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jan 2016


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