NLRP3 inflammasome and IFN-stimulated gene (ISG) induction are key biological drivers of ineffective hematopoiesis and inflammation in myelodysplastic syndromes (MDSs). Gene mutations involving mRNA splicing and epigenetic regulatory pathways induce inflammasome activation and myeloid lineage skewing in MDSs through undefined mechanisms. Using immortalized murine hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells harboring these somatic gene mutations and primary MDS BM specimens, we showed accumulation of unresolved R-loops and micronuclei with concurrent activation of the cytosolic sensor cyclic GMP-AMP synthase. Cyclic GMP-AMP synthase/stimulator of IFN genes (cGAS/STING) signaling caused ISG induction, NLRP3 inflammasome activation, and maturation of the effector protease caspase-1. Deregulation of RNA polymerase III drove cytosolic R-loop generation, which upon inhibition, extinguished ISG and inflammasome response. Mechanistically, caspase-1 degraded the master erythroid transcription factor, GATA binding protein 1, provoking anemia and myeloid lineage bias that was reversed by cGAS inhibition in vitro and in Tet2–/– hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell–transplanted mice. Together, these data identified a mechanism by which functionally distinct mutations converged upon the cGAS/STING/NLRP3 axis in MDS, directing ISG induction, pyroptosis, and myeloid lineage skewing.
Amy F. McLemore, Hsin-An Hou, Benjamin S. Meyer, Nghi B. Lam, Grace A. Ward, Amy L. Aldrich, Matthew A. Rodrigues, Alexis Vedder, Ling Zhang, Eric Padron, Nicole D. Vincelette, David A. Sallman, Omar Abdel-Wahab, Alan F. List, Kathy L. McGraw
Autologous cytoplasmic DNA activates the cytoplasmic sensor, cGAS, directing inflammasome activation and differentiation defects in MDS.