BACKGROUND: Autosomal dominant gain-of-function (GOF) mutations in human STING (Stimulator of Interferon Genes) lead to a severe autoinflammatory disease called SAVI (STING Associated Vasculopathy with onset in Infancy), associated with enhanced expression of interferon (IFN) stimulated gene (ISG) transcripts.
OBJECTIVE: The goal of this study was to analyze the phenotype of a new mouse model of Sting hyperactivation, and the role of type I IFN in this system.
METHODS: We generated a knock-in model carrying an amino acid substitution (V154M) in mouse Sting, corresponding to a recurrent mutation seen in human patients with SAVI. Hematopoietic development and tissue histology were analyzed. Lymphocyte activation and proliferation were assessed in vitro. Sting V154M/WT mice were crossed to IFNAR (IFNα/β Receptor) knock-out mice in order to evaluate the type I IFN-dependence of the mutant Sting phenotype recorded.
RESULTS: In Sting V154M/WT mice we detected variable expression of inflammatory infiltrates in the lungs and kidneys. These mice showed a marked decrease in survival and developed a severe combined immunodeficiency disease (SCID) affecting B, T and NK cells, with an almost complete lack of antibodies and a significant expansion of monocytes and granulocytes. The blockade in B and T cell development was present from early immature stages in bone marrow and thymus. In addition, in vitro experiments revealed an intrinsic proliferative defect of mature T cells. Whilst the V154M/WT mutant demonstrated increased expression of ISGs, the SCID phenotype was not reversed in Sting V154M/WT IFNAR knock-out mice. However, the anti-proliferative defect in T cells was partially rescued by IFNAR deficiency.
CONCLUSIONS: Sting GOF mice developed an IFN-independent SCID phenotype with a T, B and NK cell developmental defect and hypogammaglobulinemia, associated with signs of inflammation in lungs and kidneys. Only the intrinsic proliferative defect of T cells was, partially, IFN-dependent.