Genome Replication Is Associated With Release of Immunogenic DNA Waste

Nadja Schubert, Tina Schumann, Elena Daum, Karolin Flade, Yan Ge, Lara Hagedorn, Winfried Edelmann, Luise Müller, Marc Schmitz, Gunnar Kuut, Veit Hornung, Rayk Behrendt, Axel Roers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Innate DNA sensors detect foreign and endogenous DNA to induce responses to infection and cellular stress or damage. Inappropriate activation by self-DNA triggers severe autoinflammatory conditions, including Aicardi-Goutières syndrome (AGS) that can be caused by defects of the cytosolic DNase 3’repair exonuclease 1 (TREX1). TREX1 loss-of-function alleles are also associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Chronic activation of innate antiviral immunity in TREX1-deficient cells depends on the DNA sensor cGAS, implying that accumulating TREX1 DNA substrates cause the inflammatory pathology. Retrotransposon-derived cDNAs were shown to activate cGAS in TREX1-deficient neuronal cells. We addressed other endogenous sources of cGAS ligands in cells lacking TREX1. We find that induced loss of TREX1 in primary cells induces a rapid IFN response that requires ongoing proliferation. The inflammatory phenotype of Trex1-/- mice was partially rescued by additional knock out of exonuclease 1, a multifunctional enzyme providing 5’ flap endonuclease activity for Okazaki fragment processing and postreplicative ribonucleotide excision repair. Our data imply genome replication as a source of DNA waste with pathogenic potential that is efficiently degraded by TREX1.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number880413
JournalFrontiers in immunology
StatePublished - May 11 2022


  • Exo1
  • Trex1
  • cytosolic DNA
  • interferonopathy
  • replication
  • type I interferon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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