DNA is highly immunogenic. It represents a key pathogen-associated molecular pattern (PAMP) during infection. Host DNA can, however, also act as a danger-associated molecular pattern (DAMP) and elicit strong inflammatory responses. The cGAS-STING pathway has emerged as a major pathway that detects intracellular DNA. Here, we highlight recent advances on how cGAS and STING mediate inflammatory responses and how these are regulated, allowing cells to readily respond to infections and noxious agent while avoiding the inappropriate sensing of self-DNA. A particular focus is placed on the role of cGAS in the context of sterile inflammatory conditions. Manipulating cGAS or STING may open the door for new therapeutic strategies for the treatment of acute and chronic inflammation relevant to many human diseases.
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