Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) forms two gH/gL glycoprotein complexes, gH/gL/gO and gH/gL/pUL(128,130,131A), which determine the tropism, the entry pathways and the mode of spread of the virus. For murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV), which serves as a model for HCMV, a gH/gL/gO complex functionally homologous to the HCMV gH/gL/gO complex has been described. Knock-out of MCMV gO does impair, but not abolish, virus spread indicating that also MCMV might form an alternative gH/gL complex. Here, we show that the MCMV CC chemokine MCK-2 forms a complex with the glycoprotein gH, a complex which is incorporated into the virion. We could additionally show that mutants lacking both, gO and MCK-2 are not able to produce infectious virus. Trans-complementation of these double mutants with either gO or MCK-2 showed that both proteins can promote infection of host cells, although through different entry pathways. MCK-2 has been extensively studied in vivo by others. It has been shown to be involved in attracting cells for virus dissemination and in regulating antiviral host responses. We now show that MCK-2, by forming a complex with gH, strongly promotes infection of macrophages in vitro and in vivo. Thus, MCK-2 may play a dual role in MCMV infection, as a chemokine regulating the host response and attracting specific target cells and as part of a glycoprotein complex promoting entry into cells crucial for virus dissemination.
Several human herpesviruses form alternative gH/gL complexes which determine the tropism for different cell types. For murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV), a gH/gL/gO complex has recently been characterized. Here, we present the identification and characterization of an alternative gH/gL/MCK-2 complex which promotes MCMV spread and is important for efficient infection of macrophages in vitro and in vivo. Association of the MCMV CC chemokine MCK-2 with a glycoprotein complex promoting virus entry is a novel function for the well-characterized MCK-2. Virus mutants lacking MCK-2 have been shown to exhibit a reduced capacity to attract leukocytes and a disregulated T cell control of the MCMV infection in vivo. These defects can be attributed to the chemokine function of MCK-2. Yet, the observation that MCK-2 knock-out mutants additionally are impaired in infecting leukocytes in vivo is consistent with our new finding that MCK-2 forms a glycoprotein complex promoting entry into monocytic cells. gH/gL complexes associating with multifunctional proteins add a new level of complexity to the interpretation of infection phenotypes of the respective knock-out herpesviruses.
We have established that HCMV acts as a specific ligand engaging and activating cellular integrins on monocytes. As a result, integrin signaling via Src activation leads to the functional activation of paxillin required for efficient viral entry and for the biological changes in monocytes needed for viral dissemination. These biological/molecular changes allow HCMV to use monocytes as “vehicles” for systemic spread and the establishment of lifelong persistence. However, it remains unresolved how HCMV specifically induces this observed monocyte activation. It was previously demonstrated that the HCMV gH/gL/UL128-131 glycoprotein complex facilitates viral entry into biologically relevant cell types. Nevertheless, the mechanism by which the gH/gL/UL128-131 complex promotes this process is unknown. We now show that only HCMV virions possessing the gH/gL/UL128-131 complex are capable of activating integrin/Src/paxillin-signaling in monocytes. In fibroblasts, this signaling is reversed, such that virus lacking the gH/gL/UL128-131 complex is the only virus able to induce the paxillin activation cascade. The presence of the gH/gL/UL128-131 complex also may have an inhibitory effect on integrin-mediated signaling pathway in fibroblasts. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the presence of the gH/gL/UL128-131 complex on the viral envelope, through its activation of the integrin/Src/paxillin pathway, is necessary for efficient HCMV internalization into monocytes and that appropriate actin and dynamin regulation is critical for this entry process. Importantly, productive infection in monocyte-derived macrophages was seen only in cells exposed to HCMV expressing the gH/gL/UL128-131 complex. From our data, the HCMV gH/gL/U128-131 complex emerges as the specific ligand driving the activation of the receptor-mediated signaling required for the regulation of the actin cytoskeleton and, consequently, for efficient and productive internalization of HCMV into monocytes. To our knowledge, our studies demonstrate a possible molecular mechanism for why the gH/gL/UL128-131 complex dictates HCMV tropism and why the complex is lost as clinical isolates are passaged in the laboratory.
We previously demonstrated that HCMV, by engaging cellular receptors, changes the biology of blood monocytes, allowing for efficient viral entry into these cells and their use as virus-carriers in HCMV systemic spread. However, it was unclear how HCMV induces receptor-mediated signaling in infected cells. Here we report that HCMV by expressing a specific complex of five glycoproteins, present on HCMV clinical isolates, engages cellular integrin receptors and subsequently triggers integrin-mediated signaling leading to efficient viral entry into monocytes and productive infection of monocyte-derived macrophages. We also demonstrate that the HCMV pentameric complex has an inhibitory effect on integrin-mediated signaling in fibroblasts, an in vitro model system of HCMV infection, suggesting that the presence of the pentameric complex is not advantageous for HCMV infection of fibroblasts. Together, our results argue that HCMV uses distinct mechanisms to enter monocytes and fibroblasts. In support, our findings indicate that HCMV utilizes an endocytic-like route of entry into monocytes that is in contrast to viral fusion at the cell surface seen in fibroblasts. Our studies provide a molecular explanation for a previously observed critical role of the HCMV pentameric complex during infection of clinically relevant cell types, which in the future may lead to the development of better targets for antiviral therapy.
Bioinformatic and direct cloning approaches have led to the identification of over 100 novel miRNAs expressed in DNA viruses, although the function of the majority of these small regulatory RNA molecules is unclear. Recently, a number of reports have now identified potential targets of viral miRNAs, including cellular and viral genes as well as an ortholog of an important immune-regulatory cellular miRNA. In this review, we will cover the identification and characterization of miRNAs expressed in the herpesvirus family and discuss the potential significance of their role in viral infection.
Herpesvirus; microRNA; miRNA; HCMV; HSV; KSHV; EBV; Virus
The purpose of the current study was to identify and describe strategies available to optimize retention of a high-risk research cohort and assist in the recovery of study participants following participant dropout.
Design and Methods
The Maternal Lifestyle Study (MLS), which investigated the effects of prenatal substance exposure (cocaine or opiates) on child outcome, is a prospective longitudinal follow-up study that extended from birth through 15 years of age. Retention strategies to maximize participation and factors that might negatively impact compliance were examined over the course of five follow-up phases.
At the conclusion of the 15-year visits, MLS had successfully maintained compliance at 76%. Retention rates did not differ by exposure group.
Maintaining ongoing participation of enrolled study subjects is a critical element of any successful longitudinal study. Strategies that can be used to reengage and maintain participants in longitudinal research include persistence, flexibility with scheduling, home visits, long-distance trips, increased incentives, and development of a computerized tracking system. Establishing rapport with families and ensuring confidentiality contributed to overall participant retention. The use of multiple tracking techniques is essential.
Researchers are challenged to maintain participants in longitudinal studies to ensure the integrity of their research.
Longitudinal research; participant retention; tracking; compliance
Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) miRNAs are important for regulation of viral infection and evasion of host immune responses. Unfortunately, the importance of HCMV miRNAs cannot be addressed in vivo due to the species specificity of CMVs. Rhesus CMV (RhCMV) infection of rhesus macaques provides an important model system for HCMV pathogenesis due to the genetic similarity between the viruses. In this report, seventeen RhCMV miRNAs were identified using Next Generation Sequencing. In fibroblasts, RhCMV miRNAs associate with Argonaute proteins and display several patterns of expression, including an early peak in expression followed by decline and accumulation throughout infection. Additionally, RhCMV encodes an HCMV miR-US5-2 homologue that targets the 3’ UTR of RhCMV US7. Finally, examination of salivary gland tissue from infected animals revealed the presence of a subset of viral miRNAs. This study highlights the importance of the RhCMV model system for evaluating the roles of CMV miRNAs during viral infection.
RhCMV; HCMV; miRNA; endothelial cells; salivary gland; miR-US5-2
A number of human herpes viruses are important opportunistic pathogens that have been associated with increased morbidity and mortality in transplant recipients including human cytomegalovirus (HCMV), HHV6, HHV7, HHV8 as well as HSV-1, VZV. However, HCMV has been linked both epidemiologically and through the use of animal models to the acceleration of acute and chronic allograft rejection. This review will cover the pathophysiology, epidemiology and mechanisms of CMV-associated disease in the setting of transplantation.
The Human Cytomegalovirus (HCMV)-encoded chemokine receptor US28 is the most well-characterized of the four chemokine receptor-like molecules found in the HCMV genome. US28 been studied as an important virulence factor for HCMV-mediated vascular disease and, more recently, in models of HCMV-associated malignancy. US28 is a rare multi-chemokine family binding receptor with the ability to bind ligands from two distinct chemokine classes. Ligand binding to US28 activates cell-type and ligand-specific signaling pathways leading to cellular migration, an example receptor functional selectivity. Additionally, US28 has been demonstrated to constitutively activate PLC and NFkB. Understanding the structure/function relationships between US28, its ligands and intracellular signaling molecules will provide essential clues for effective pharmacological targeting this multifunctional chemokine receptor.
Herpes viruses persist in the infected host and are transmitted between hosts in the presence of a fully functional humoral immune response, suggesting that they can evade neutralization by antiviral antibodies. Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) encodes a number of polymorphic highly glycosylated virion glycoproteins (g), including the essential envelope glycoprotein, gN. We have tested the hypothesis that glycosylation of gN contributes to resistance of the virus to neutralizing antibodies. Recombinant viruses carrying deletions in serine/threonine rich sequences within the glycosylated surface domain of gN were constructed in the genetic background of HCMV strain AD169. The deletions had no influence on the formation of the gM/gN complex and in vitro replication of the respective viruses compared to the parent virus. The gN-truncated viruses were significantly more susceptible to neutralization by a gN-specific monoclonal antibody and in addition by a number of gB- and gH-specific monoclonal antibodies. Sera from individuals previously infected with HCMV also more efficiently neutralized gN-truncated viruses. Immunization of mice with viruses that expressed the truncated forms of gN resulted in significantly higher serum neutralizing antibody titers against the homologous strain that was accompanied by increased antibody titers against known neutralizing epitopes on gB and gH. Importantly, neutralization activity of sera from animals immunized with gN-truncated virus did not exhibit enhanced neutralizing activity against the parental wild type virus carrying the fully glycosylated wild type gN. Our results indicate that the extensive glycosylation of gN could represent a potentially important mechanism by which HCMV neutralization by a number of different antibody reactivities can be inhibited.
Herpes viruses are transmitted between individuals in cell free form and successful spread benefits from mechanisms that limit the loss of infectivity by the activity of virus neutralizing antibodies. Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is an important pathogen and understanding how the virus can evade antiviral antibodies may be clinically relevant. HCMV particles contain a number of highly polymorphic, extensively glycosylated envelope proteins, one of which is glycoprotein N (gN). This protein is essential for replication of HCMV. We have hypothesized that the extensive glycosylation of gN may serve as a tool to evade neutralization by antiviral antibodies. Recombinant viruses were generated expressing gN proteins with reduced glycan modification. The loss of glycan modification had no detectable influence on the in vitro replication of the respective viruses. However, the recombinant viruses containing under-glycosylated forms of gN were significantly more susceptible to neutralization by a diverse array of antibody reactivities. Immunization of mice with viruses carrying fewer glycan modification induced significantly higher antibody titers against the homologous virus; however, the neutralization titers against the fully glycosylated virions, were not enhanced. Our results indicate that glycosylation of gN of HCMV represents a potentially important mechanism for evasion of antibody-mediated neutralization by a number of different antibody specificities.
Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) encodes at least 14 microRNAs (miRNAs) that act posttranscriptionally to repress gene expression. Although several HCMV miRNA targets of both cellular and viral origin have been identified, our knowledge of their function remains limited. HCMV miRNA targets, as well as phenotypes associated with HCMV miRNA mutants, have been difficult to identify since the downregulation of targets by a single miRNA is often less than 2-fold. Several factors can contribute to the strength of repression, including the mechanism of translational inhibition, the degree of complementarity between the miRNA and target mRNA, the number of binding sites for one miRNA, and cooperativity or antagonism between miRNAs. To determine the effect of multiple miRNAs on one gene, we examined the repression of a viral gene, US7. Here we demonstrate that the HCMV-encoded miRNAs miR-US5-1 and miR-US5-2 function in a highly synergistic manner to regulate US7, even at very low miRNA concentrations. Regulation of US7 involves three functional miRNA binding sites: two that are completely complementary to the 3′ untranslated region (3′UTR) and one that is imperfectly matched. Surprisingly, we observed equal contributions to inhibition from both complete and partially complementary sites, and repression was not completely abrogated until all three sites were mutated simultaneously. We also observed that the miRNA binding sites did not follow the spacing constraints for corepressive miRNAs observed in earlier reports. These results underscore the importance of evaluating the contribution of multiple miRNAs on gene regulation and shed new insight into miRNA:mRNA interactions.
The dengue viruses (DENVs) exist as numerous genetic strains that are grouped into four antigenically distinct serotypes. DENV strains from each serotype can cause severe disease and threaten public health in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. No licensed antiviral agent to treat DENV infections is currently available, and there is an acute need for the development of novel therapeutics. We found that a synthetic small interfering RNA (siRNA) (DC-3) targeting the highly conserved 5′ cyclization sequence (5′CS) region of the DENV genome reduced, by more than 100-fold, the titers of representative strains from each DENV serotype in vitro. To determine if DC-3 siRNA could inhibit DENV in vivo, an “in vivo-ready” version of DC-3 was synthesized and tested against DENV-2 by using a mouse model of antibody-dependent enhancement of infection (ADE)-induced disease. Compared with the rapid weight loss and 5-day average survival time of the control groups, mice receiving the DC-3 siRNA had an average survival time of 15 days and showed little weight loss for approximately 12 days. DC-3-treated mice also contained significantly less virus than control groups in several tissues at various time points postinfection. These results suggest that exogenously introduced siRNA combined with the endogenous RNA interference processing machinery has the capacity to prevent severe dengue disease. Overall, the data indicate that DC-3 siRNA represents a useful research reagent and has potential as a novel approach to therapeutic intervention against the genetically diverse dengue viruses.
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a ubiquitous human herpesvirus linked to a number of B cell cancers and lymphoproliferative disorders. During latent infection, EBV expresses 25 viral pre-microRNAs (miRNAs) and induces the expression of specific host miRNAs, such as miR-155 and miR-21, which potentially play a role in viral oncogenesis. To date, only a limited number of EBV miRNA targets have been identified; thus, the role of EBV miRNAs in viral pathogenesis and/or lymphomagenesis is not well defined. Here, we used photoactivatable ribonucleoside-enhanced crosslinking and immunoprecipitation (PAR-CLIP) combined with deep sequencing and computational analysis to comprehensively examine the viral and cellular miRNA targetome in EBV strain B95-8-infected lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs). We identified 7,827 miRNA-interaction sites in 3,492 cellular 3′UTRs. 531 of these sites contained seed matches to viral miRNAs. 24 PAR-CLIP-identified miRNA:3′UTR interactions were confirmed by reporter assays. Our results reveal that EBV miRNAs predominantly target cellular transcripts during latent infection, thereby manipulating the host environment. Furthermore, targets of EBV miRNAs are involved in multiple cellular processes that are directly relevant to viral infection, including innate immunity, cell survival, and cell proliferation. Finally, we present evidence that myc-regulated host miRNAs from the miR-17/92 cluster can regulate latent viral gene expression. This comprehensive survey of the miRNA targetome in EBV-infected B cells represents a key step towards defining the functions of EBV-encoded miRNAs, and potentially, identifying novel therapeutic targets for EBV-associated malignancies.
Over 90% of adults worldwide are infected with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). While EBV infection is normally controlled by a healthy immune system, in immuno-compromised individuals, EBV can cause serious disease and/or cancer. During infection, EBV expresses viral microRNAs (miRNAs) and induces the expression of specific cellular miRNAs. In general, miRNAs inhibit target gene expression by binding to complementary regions on target messenger RNAs (mRNA). While cellular miRNAs regulate important biological processes such as cell growth and differentiation, and many miRNAs have been linked to cancer progression, the functions of EBV miRNAs are largely unknown. To identify targets of EBV miRNAs and cellular miRNAs in EBV-infected cells, we used a high-throughput method based on next-generation sequencing technology to give a global picture of miRNA-regulated gene expression. Our analysis showed that over 500 mRNAs can be regulated by viral miRNAs, many of which are directly relevant to EBV infection. This study provides a comprehensive survey of viral and cellular miRNA targets in B cells, which is a positive step towards identifying novel therapeutic targets for EBV-associated cancers.
Clinical strains of HCMV encode 20 putative ORFs within a region of the genome termed ULb′ that are postulated to encode functions related to persistence or immune evasion. We have previously identified ULb′-encoded pUL138 as necessary, but not sufficient, for HCMV latency in CD34+ hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs) infected in vitro. pUL138 is encoded on polycistronic transcripts that also encode 3 additional proteins, pUL133, pUL135, and pUL136, collectively comprising the UL133-UL138 locus. This work represents the first characterization of these proteins and identifies a role for this locus in infection. Similar to pUL138, pUL133, pUL135, and pUL136 are integral membrane proteins that partially co-localized with pUL138 in the Golgi during productive infection in fibroblasts. As expected of ULb′ sequences, the UL133-UL138 locus was dispensable for replication in cultured fibroblasts. In CD34+ HPCs, this locus suppressed viral replication in HPCs, an activity attributable to both pUL133 and pUL138. Strikingly, the UL133-UL138 locus was required for efficient replication in endothelial cells. The association of this locus with three context-dependent phenotypes suggests an exciting role for the UL133-UL138 locus in modulating the outcome of viral infection in different contexts of infection. Differential profiles of protein expression from the UL133-UL138 locus correlated with the cell-type dependent phenotypes associated with this locus. We extended our in vitro findings to analyze viral replication and dissemination in a NOD-scid IL2Rγcnull-humanized mouse model. The UL133-UL138NULL virus exhibited an increased capacity for replication and/or dissemination following stem cell mobilization relative to the wild-type virus, suggesting an important role in viral persistence and spread in the host. As pUL133, pUL135, pUL136, and pUL138 are conserved in virus strains infecting higher order primates, but not lower order mammals, the functions encoded likely represent host-specific viral adaptations.
Human cytomegalovirus is a ubiquitous herpesvirus that, like all herpesviruses, establishes a life long relationship with its host through a latent infection. The molecular basis of viral latency is poorly understood, in part, because viral determinants of latency and the corresponding virus-host interactions are not well defined. We have identified a polycistronic locus encoding the pUL138 latency determinant, as well as three previously uncharacterized proteins, pUL133, pUL135, and pUL136. We have characterized this novel locus, the proteins it encodes and demonstrated the role of the locus in modulating viral replication depending on the context of infection. While this locus is dispensable for productive replication in fibroblasts, it adversely impacts virus replication in primary hematopoietic cells, suggesting a role in establishing latency. Surprisingly, the locus is required for efficient replication in primary human endothelial cells. To our knowledge this is the first demonstration of a viral locus that can have positive, negative, or null effects on viral replication depending on the context of infection. Our work defines exciting new primate strain-specific determinants mediating viral replication and latency and exemplifies the complex nature of virus-host interactions in cytomegalovirus infection.
Human cytomegalovirus (CMV) exerts diverse and complex effects on the immune system, not all of which have been attributed to viral genes. Acute CMV infection results in transient restrictions in T cell proliferative ability, which can impair the control of the virus and increase the risk of secondary infections in patients with weakened or immature immune systems. In a search for new immunomodulatory proteins, we investigated the UL11 protein, a member of the CMV RL11 family. This protein family is defined by the RL11 domain, which has homology to immunoglobulin domains and adenoviral immunomodulatory proteins. We show that pUL11 is expressed on the cell surface and induces intercellular interactions with leukocytes. This was demonstrated to be due to the interaction of pUL11 with the receptor tyrosine phosphatase CD45, identified by mass spectrometry analysis of pUL11-associated proteins. CD45 expression is sufficient to mediate the interaction with pUL11 and is required for pUL11 binding to T cells, indicating that pUL11 is a specific CD45 ligand. CD45 has a pivotal function regulating T cell signaling thresholds; in its absence, the Src family kinase Lck is inactive and signaling through the T cell receptor (TCR) is therefore shut off. In the presence of pUL11, several CD45-mediated functions were inhibited. The induction of tyrosine phosphorylation of multiple signaling proteins upon TCR stimulation was reduced and T cell proliferation was impaired. We therefore conclude that pUL11 has immunosuppressive properties, and that disruption of T cell function via inhibition of CD45 is a previously unknown immunomodulatory strategy of CMV.
The human cytomegalovirus (CMV) belongs to a class of viruses that interferes with the immune response of its host. Accordingly, infection with CMV is a severe risk for immunologically immature newborns and immunocompromised patients such as transplant recipients. The mechanisms by which CMV affects the immune system are not completely understood. Here we show that a CMV protein, pUL11, which is expressed on the surface of cells, binds to leukocytes by interacting with the receptor tyrosine phosphatase CD45. In T cells, CD45 is essential for transmission of activating signals received via the T cell receptor (TCR) to downstream effector molecules that ultimately lead to activation and proliferation of these immune cells. Binding of the CMV pUL11 protein to CD45 on T cells prevents signal transduction via the TCR and restricts T cell proliferation. Interestingly, the mechanism by which the activity of CD45 is regulated is a matter of debate and no specific cellular ligand of CD45 has yet been described. The identification of a first viral ligand for CD45 may provide the means to investigate CD45 regulatory mechanisms and also allow the development of therapies to interfere with CMV-mediated immunomodulation.
The AIDS-causing lentiviruses HIV and SIV effectively evade host immunity, and once established, infections with these viruses are only rarely controlled by immunologic mechanisms1-3. However, the initial establishment of infection in the first few days after mucosal exposure, prior to viral dissemination and massive replication, may be more vulnerable to immune control4. Here, we report that SIV vaccines that include rhesus cytomegalovirus (RhCMV) vectors5 establish indefinitely persistent, high frequency, SIV-specific effector-memory T cell (TEM) responses at potential sites of SIV replication in rhesus macaques (RM) and stringently control highly pathogenic SIVmac239 infection early after mucosal challenge. Thirteen of 24 RM receiving either RhCMV vectors alone or RhCMV vectors followed by adenovirus 5 (Ad5) vectors (vs. 0 of 9 DNA/Ad5-vaccinated RM) manifested early complete control of SIV (undetectable plasma virus), and in 12/13 of these RM, we observed long-term (≥1 year) protection characterized by: 1) occasional blips of plasma viremia that ultimately waned; 2) predominantly undetectable cell-associated viral load in blood and lymph node mononuclear cells; 3) no depletion of effector site CD4+ memory T cells; 4) no induction or boosting of SIVenv-specific antibodies (Abs); and 5) induction and then loss of T cell responses to an SIV protein (vif) not included in the RhCMV vectors. Protection correlated with the magnitude of the peak SIV-specific CD8+ T cell responses in the vaccine phase, and occurred without anamnestic T cell responses. Remarkably, long-term RhCMV vector-associated SIV control was insensitive to either CD8+ or CD4+ lymphocyte depletion, and at necropsy, cell-associated SIV was only occasionally measurable at the limit of detection with ultrasensitive assays, observations suggesting the possibility of eventual viral clearance. Thus, persistent vectors such as CMV and their associated TEM responses might significantly contribute to an efficacious HIV/AIDS vaccine.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is frequently transmitted by solid organ transplantation and is associated with graft failure. By forming the boundary between circulation and organ parenchyma, endothelial cells (EC) are suited for bidirectional virus spread from and to the transplant. We applied Cre/loxP-mediated green-fluorescence-tagging of EC-derived murine CMV (MCMV) to quantify the role of infected EC in transplantation-associated CMV dissemination in the mouse model. Both EC- and non-EC-derived virus originating from infected Tie2-cre+ heart and kidney transplants were readily transmitted to MCMV-naïve recipients by primary viremia. In contrast, when a Tie2-cre+ transplant was infected by primary viremia in an infected recipient, the recombined EC-derived virus poorly spread to recipient tissues. Similarly, in reverse direction, EC-derived virus from infected Tie2-cre+ recipient tissues poorly spread to the transplant. These data contradict any privileged role of EC in CMV dissemination and challenge an indiscriminate applicability of the primary and secondary viremia concept of virus dissemination.
More than sixty years ago Frank Fenner proposed that virus dissemination during acute infection originates from organs replicating virus to high titer (often liver or spleen) early in infection. Although never formally proven, this model has become commonly accepted and was applied to acute virus infections in general. Recently, we challenged this model by showing that - during acute murine cytomegalovirus infection – hepatocyte-derived virus hardly disseminates to other organs. We now applied our well established model of Cre/loxP-mediated green-fluorescence-tagging of MCMV to determine and quantify the role of infected endothelial cells (EC) in transplantation-associated CMV dissemination. We observed an only very poor dissemination of MCMV from the transplant to recipient tissues and vice versa. Interestingly, we observed no evidence for preferential dissemination of EC-derived virus. Significant differences in virus organ titers were found when comparing intravenous infection with transplant-mediated infection. This suggests a preferential dissemination of cell-associated virus in the transplant setting. In summary, our findings argue for a preferential dissemination of cell-associated MCMV but demonstrate that the Fenner model does not apply to MCMV.
In mouse models of influenza, T cells can confer broad protection against multiple viral subtypes when antibodies raised against a single subtype fail to do so. However, the role of T cells in protecting humans against influenza remains unclear. Here we employ a translational nonhuman primate model to show that cross-reactive T cell responses play an important role in early clearance of infection with 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza virus (H1N1pdm). To “prime” cellular immunity, we first infected 5 rhesus macaques with a seasonal human H1N1 isolate. These animals made detectable cellular and antibody responses against the seasonal H1N1 isolate but had no neutralizing antibodies against H1N1pdm. Four months later, we challenged the 5 “primed” animals and 7 naive controls with H1N1pdm. In naive animals, CD8+ T cells with an activated phenotype (Ki-67+ CD38+) appeared in blood and lung 5–7 days post inoculation (p.i.) with H1N1pdm and reached peak magnitude 7–10 days p.i. In contrast, activated T cells were recruited to the lung as early as 2 days p.i. in “primed” animals, and reached peak frequencies in blood and lung 4–7 days p.i. Interferon (IFN)-γ Elispot and intracellular cytokine staining assays showed that the virus-specific response peaked earlier and reached a higher magnitude in “primed” animals than in naive animals. This response involved both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. Strikingly, “primed” animals cleared H1N1pdm infection significantly earlier from the upper and lower respiratory tract than the naive animals did, and before the appearance of H1N1pdm-specific neutralizing antibodies. Together, our results suggest that cross-reactive T cell responses can mediate early clearance of an antigenically novel influenza virus in primates. Vaccines capable of inducing such cross-reactive T cells may help protect humans against severe disease caused by newly emerging pandemic influenza viruses.
Antibodies against influenza target the highly mutable proteins on the virus surface. Influenza pandemics are caused by novel viruses whose surface proteins are so different from previously circulating viruses as to be unrecognizable by most individuals' antibodies. We hypothesized that T cells might be capable of reducing the severity of infection with pandemic influenza viruses, against which antibodies are ineffective. Experiments in mice have supported this idea, but the ability of T cells to protect humans against influenza has remained unclear. We therefore tested our hypothesis in macaque monkeys, whose physiology and immune systems closely resemble those of humans. We used a seasonal virus to “prime” macaques to make immune responses against influenza and found that these animals were able to control infection with 2009 H1N1 pandemic influenza viruses more effectively than animals that had not been “primed.” Protection was associated with T cell responses, but not antibodies, that were quickly “recalled” after challenge with the pandemic virus. Our results suggest that “cross-reactive” T cells could play an important role in controlling influenza in humans. Vaccines designed to induce strong T cell responses in addition to antibodies could offer enhanced protection against emerging influenza viruses.
Interferon-induced BST2/Tetherin prevents budding of vpu-deficient HIV-1 by tethering mature viral particles to the plasma membrane. BST2 also inhibits release of other enveloped viruses including Ebola virus and Kaposi's sarcoma associated herpesvirus (KSHV), indicating that BST2 is a broadly acting antiviral host protein. Unexpectedly however, recovery of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) from supernatants of BST2-expressing human fibroblasts was increased rather than decreased. Furthermore, BST2 seemed to enhance viral entry into cells since more virion proteins were released into BST2-expressing cells and subsequent viral gene expression was elevated. A significant increase in viral entry was also observed upon induction of endogenous BST2 during differentiation of the pro-monocytic cell line THP-1. Moreover, treatment of primary human monocytes with siRNA to BST2 reduced HCMV infection, suggesting that BST2 facilitates entry of HCMV into cells expressing high levels of BST2 either constitutively or in response to exogenous stimuli. Since BST2 is present in HCMV particles we propose that HCMV entry is enhanced via a reverse-tethering mechanism with BST2 in the viral envelope interacting with BST2 in the target cell membrane. Our data suggest that HCMV not only counteracts the well-established function of BST2 as inhibitor of viral egress but also employs this anti-viral protein to gain entry into BST2-expressing hematopoietic cells, a process that might play a role in hematogenous dissemination of HCMV.
Human Cytomegalovirus (HCMV) persistently infects a large proportion of the human population without causing any symptoms. The establishment and maintenance of HCMV in infected individuals is thought to be facilitated by the ability of HCMV to modulate innate and adaptive immune responses by the host. BST2, aka Tetherin, was recently shown to be an innate immune response molecule that is induced by the antiviral cytokine interferon. BST2 has been shown to prevent the release of many different viruses, including the human immunodeficiency virus and Ebola virus, from infected cells by tethering the viral envelope to the host cell membrane. Unexpectedly however, we observed that BST2 had the opposite effect on infection by HCMV. Cells expressing BST2 became more susceptible to infection with HCMV. Thus, HCMV seems to use this antiviral protein to gain access to cells that naturally express high levels of BST2 such as macrophages.
Dengue virus (DENV) infections are vectored by mosquitoes and constitute one of the most prevalent infectious diseases in many parts of the world, affecting millions of people annually. Current treatments for DENV infections are nonspecific and largely ineffective. In this study, we describe the adaptation of a high-content cell-based assay for screening against DENV-infected cells to identify inhibitors and modulators of DENV infection. Using this high-content approach, we monitored the inhibition of test compounds on DENV protein production by means of immunofluorescence staining of DENV glycoprotein envelope, simultaneously evaluating cytotoxicity in HEK293 cells. The adapted 384-well microtiter-based assay was validated using a small panel of compounds previously reported as having inhibitory activity against DENV infections of cell cultures, including compounds with antiviral activity (ribavirin), inhibitors of cellular signaling pathways (U0126), and polysaccharides that are presumed to interfere with virus attachment (carrageenan). A screen was performed against a collection of 5,632 well-characterized bioactives, including U.S. Food and Drug Administration–approved drugs. Assay control statistics show an average Z' of 0.63, indicative of a robust assay in this cell-based format. Using a threshold of >80% DENV inhibition with <20% cellular cytotoxicity, 79 compounds were initially scored as positive hits. A follow-up screen confirmed 73 compounds with IC50 potencies ranging from 60 nM to 9 μM and yielding a hit rate of 1.3%. Over half of the confirmed hits are known to target transporters, receptors, and protein kinases, providing potential opportunity for drug repurposing to treat DENV infections. In summary, this assay offers the opportunity to screen libraries of chemical compounds, in an effort to identify and develop novel drug candidates against DENV infections.
Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) continues to be a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in organ transplant recipients despite the availability of antiviral therapy. Considerable controversy exists regarding the use of granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) mobilized blood products from HCMV seropositive donors during stem cell transplantation (SCT) and in patients receiving granulocyte transfusions to treat neutropenia. In order to understand mechanisms of HCMV transmission to patients receiving G-CSF mobilized blood products, we generated a novel NOD-scid IL2Rγcnull humanized mouse model in which HCMV establishes a latent infection in human hematopoietic lineage cells. In this model, G-CSF induces the reactivation of latent HCMV in monocytes/macrophages that have migrated into organ tissues. These results suggest that the use of G-CSF mobilized blood products from seropositive donors pose an elevated risk for HCMV transmission to recipients.
DNA damage resulting from intrinsic or extrinsic sources activates DNA damage responses (DDRs) centered on protein kinase signaling cascades. The usual consequences of inducing DDRs include the activation of cell cycle checkpoints together with repair of the damaged DNA or induction of apoptosis. Many DNA viruses elicit host DDRs during infection and some viruses require the DDR for efficient replication. However, the mechanism by which DDRs are activated by viral infection is poorly understood. Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection induces a DDR centered on the activation of ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) protein kinase. Here we show that HCMV replication is compromised in cells with inactivated or depleted ATM and that ATM is essential for the host DDR early during infection. Likewise, a downstream target of ATM phosphorylation, H2AX, also contributes to viral replication. The ATM-dependent DDR is detected as discrete, nuclear γH2AX foci early in infection and can be activated by IE proteins. By 24 hpi, γH2AX is observed primarily in HCMV DNA replication compartments. We identified a role for the E2F1 transcription factor in mediating this DDR and viral replication. E2F1, but not E2F2 or E2F3, promotes the accumulation of γH2AX during HCMV infection or IE protein expression. Moreover, E2F1 expression, but not the expression of E2F2 or E2F3, is required for efficient HCMV replication. These results reveal a novel role for E2F1 in mediating an ATM-dependent DDR that contributes to viral replication. Given that E2F activity is often deregulated by infection with DNA viruses, these observations raise the possibility that an E2F1-mediated mechanism of DDR activation may be conserved among DNA viruses.
As intracellular parasites, viruses often redirect cellular pathways to facilitate their own replication. Infection by DNA viruses often lead to the activation of host DNA damage response pathways, which normally function to repair damage to host chromosomes. Some DNA viruses depend on this infection-induced DNA damage response to efficiently replicate. How infection activates the DNA damage response is poorly understood. To address this limitation, we first determined whether the DNA damage response affects the replication of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) and then addressed how infection induces this response in cells. We find that HCMV infection results in a host DNA damage response centered on the Ataxia Telangiectasia Mutated (ATM) protein kinase. We also show that HCMV requires ATM for efficient replication. Unexpectedly, we find that the mechanism responsible for ATM activation is the expression of E2F1, a cellular transcription factor. Moreover, expression of E2F1, like ATM, is required for HCMV replication. These observations may be of fundamental importance because infection by most DNA viruses result in both E2F1 expression and an ATM-mediated DNA damage response.
Human cytomegalovirus (hCMV) is a highly prevalent pathogen that, upon primary
infection, establishes life-long persistence in all infected individuals. Acute
hCMV infections cause a variety of diseases in humans with developmental or
acquired immune deficits. In addition, persistent hCMV infection may contribute
to various chronic disease conditions even in immunologically normal people. The
pathogenesis of hCMV disease has been frequently linked to inflammatory host
immune responses triggered by virus-infected cells. Moreover, hCMV infection
activates numerous host genes many of which encode pro-inflammatory proteins.
However, little is known about the relative contributions of individual viral
gene products to these changes in cellular transcription. We systematically
analyzed the effects of the hCMV 72-kDa immediate-early 1 (IE1) protein, a major
transcriptional activator and antagonist of type I interferon (IFN) signaling,
on the human transcriptome. Following expression under conditions closely
mimicking the situation during productive infection, IE1 elicits a global type
II IFN-like host cell response. This response is dominated by the selective
up-regulation of immune stimulatory genes normally controlled by IFN-γ and
includes the synthesis and secretion of pro-inflammatory chemokines.
IE1-mediated induction of IFN-stimulated genes strictly depends on
tyrosine-phosphorylated signal transducer and activator of transcription 1
(STAT1) and correlates with the nuclear accumulation and sequence-specific
binding of STAT1 to IFN-γ-responsive promoters. However, neither synthesis
nor secretion of IFN-γ or other IFNs seems to be required for the
IE1-dependent effects on cellular gene expression. Our results demonstrate that
a single hCMV protein can trigger a pro-inflammatory host transcriptional
response via an unexpected STAT1-dependent but IFN-independent mechanism and
identify IE1 as a candidate determinant of hCMV pathogenicity.
Human cytomegalovirus (hCMV) is a leading cause of birth defects and severe
disease in people with compromised immunity. Disease caused by hCMV is
frequently linked to inflammation, and the virus has been shown to induce
numerous host genes many of which encode pro-inflammatory proteins. However,
little is known about the contributions of individual viral proteins to these
changes in cellular transcription. We systematically analyzed the effects of the
hCMV immediate-early 1 (IE1) protein, a major viral transcriptional activator,
on expression of >28,000 human genes. Following expression under conditions
mimicking the situation during hCMV infection, IE1 elicited a transcriptional
response dominated by the up-regulation of pro-inflammatory and immune
stimulatory genes normally induced by the secreted signaling protein
interferon-γ. However, IE1-mediated gene expression was independent of
interferon induction, yet required the activated form of signal transducer and
activator of transcription 1 (STAT1), a central mediator of interferon
signaling. Indeed, STAT1 moved to the nucleus and became associated with IE1
target genes upon expression of the viral protein. Our results demonstrate that
a single hCMV protein can trigger a pro-inflammatory host cell response via an
unexpected mechanism and suggest that IE1 may contribute to hCMV disease in more
direct ways than previously thought.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) can super-infect persistently infected hosts despite CMV-specific humoral and cellular immunity; however, how it does so remains undefined. Here, we demonstrate that super-infection of rhesus CMV-infected rhesus macaques (RM) requires evasion of CD8+ T cell immunity by virally-encoded inhibitors of MHC-I antigen presentation, particularly the homologues of human CMV US2, 3, 6 and 11. In contrast, MHC-I interference was dispensable for primary infection of RM, or for the establishment of a persistent secondary infection in CMV-infected RM transiently depleted of CD8+ lymphocytes. These findings demonstrate that US2-11 glycoproteins promote evasion of CD8+ T cells in vivo thus supporting viral replication and dissemination during super-infection, a process that complicates the development of preventative CMV vaccines, but that can be exploited for CMV-based vector development.
Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection is associated epidemiologically with poor outcome of renal allografts due to mechanisms which remain largely undefined. Transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1), a potent fibrogenic cytokine, is more abundant in rejecting renal allografts that are infected with either HCMV or rat CMV as compared to uninfected, rejecting grafts. TGF-β1 induces renal fibrosis via epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) of renal epithelial cells, a process by which epithelial cells acquire mesenchymal characteristics and a migratory phenotype, and secrete molecules associated with extracellular matrix deposition and remodeling. We report that human renal tubular epithelial cells infected in vitro with HCMV and exposed to TGF-β1 underwent morphologic and transcriptional changes of EMT, similar to uninfected cells. HCMV infected cells after EMT also activated extracellular latent TGF-β1 via induction of MMP-2. Renal epithelial cells transiently transfected with only the HCMV IE1 or IE2 open reading frames and stimulated to undergo EMT also induced TGF-β1 activation associated with MMP-2 production, suggesting a role for these viral gene products in MMP-2 production. Consistent with the function of these immediate early gene products, the antiviral agents ganciclovir and foscarnet did not inhibit TGF-β1 production after EMT by HCMV infected cells. These results indicate that HCMV infected renal tubular epithelial cells can undergo EMT after exposure to TGF-β1, similar to uninfected renal epithelial cells, but that HCMV infection by inducing active TGF-β1 may potentiate renal fibrosis. Our findings provide in vitro evidence for a pathogenic mechanism that could explain the clinical association between HCMV infection, TGF-β1, and adverse renal allograft outcome.
Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is a common virus that establishes lifelong persistence in the host. Although asymptomatic in healthy people, HCMV can reactivate and cause disease in immunosuppressed patients, such as those undergoing kidney transplantation. HCMV infection is associated with inferior renal allograft survival compared to transplants without HCMV infection. HCMV infected allografts also contain higher levels of the fibrogenic cytokine, transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1), compared to uninfected allografts. TGF-β1 is a potent inducer of renal fibrosis and causes epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), whereby epithelial cells acquire characteristics of cells of mesenchymal origin and express molecules associated with fibrosis. Our work shows that renal epithelial cells infected in vitro with HCMV can undergo EMT, but that HCMV infected cells produce greater amounts of the fibrogenic molecule TGF-β1, compared to uninfected cells after EMT. We have shown that this effect is likely due to specific HCMV genes (IE1, IE2), and cannot be prevented by administration of antivirals such as ganciclovir or foscarnet. These data suggest that HCMV may contribute to adverse renal allograft outcome by exacerbating TGF-β1 induced renal fibrosis. Understanding such mechanisms will permit the development of treatments that could improve long-term renal allograft survival in HCMV infected patients.
Micro (mi)RNAs are small non-coding RNAs that regulate the expression of their targets' messenger RNAs through both translational inhibition and regulation of target RNA stability. Recently, a number of viruses, particularly of the herpesvirus family, have been shown to express their own miRNAs to control both viral and cellular transcripts. Although some targets of viral miRNAs are known, their function in a physiologically relevant infection remains to be elucidated. As such, no in vivo phenotype of a viral miRNA knock-out mutant has been described so far. Here, we report on the first functional phenotype of a miRNA knock-out virus in vivo. During subacute infection of a mutant mouse cytomegalovirus lacking two viral miRNAs, virus production is selectively reduced in salivary glands, an organ essential for virus persistence and horizontal transmission. This phenotype depends on several parameters including viral load and mouse genetic background, and is abolished by combined but not single depletion of natural killer (NK) and CD4+ T cells. Together, our results point towards a miRNA-based immunoevasion mechanism important for long-term virus persistence.
The recent discovery of miRNAs of viral origin has dramatically changed our view on virus-host interaction. Viral miRNAs have been shown to regulate genes of both cellular and viral origin, contributing to a favorable environment for the virus. However, the real importance of virus-encoded miRNAs during infection of their hosts remains elusive. In this manuscript, we report on the first functional phenotype of a miRNA knock-out mutant of the mouse cytomegalovirus in vivo. We show that the mutant virus is attenuated specifically in the salivary glands of infected mice, an organ essential for long-term persistence of the virus and host-to-host spread. Interestingly, this attenuation revealed a striking dependence on genetic background of the mice under study. Only combined depletion of natural killer and T cells abolished the phenotype. These results indicate that, by regulating the immune system, viral miRNAs may play an important role in an efficient persistent infection.
Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) depends upon a five-protein complex, gH/gL/UL128-131, to enter epithelial and endothelial cells. A separate HCMV gH/gL-containing complex, gH/gL/gO, has been described. Our prevailing model is that gH/gL/UL128-131 is required for entry into biologically important epithelial and endothelial cells and that gH/gL/gO is required for infection of fibroblasts. Genes encoding UL128-131 are rapidly mutated during laboratory propagation of HCMV on fibroblasts, apparently related to selective pressure for the fibroblast entry pathway. Arguing against this model in the accompanying paper by B. J. Ryckman et al. (J. Virol., 84:2597-2609, 2010), we describe evidence that clinical HCMV strain TR expresses a gO molecule that acts to promote endoplasmic reticulum (ER) export of gH/gL and that gO is not stably incorporated into the virus envelope. This was different from results involving fibroblast-adapted HCMV strain AD169, which incorporates gO into the virion envelope. Here, we constructed a TR gO-null mutant, TRΔgO, that replicated to low titers, spread poorly among fibroblasts, but produced normal quantities of extracellular virus particles. TRΔgO particles released from fibroblasts failed to infect fibroblasts and epithelial and endothelial cells, but the chemical fusogen polyethylene glycol (PEG) could partially overcome defects in infection. Therefore, TRΔgO is defective for entry into all three cell types. Defects in entry were explained by observations showing that TRΔgO incorporated about 5% of the quantities of gH/gL in extracellular virus particles compared with that in wild-type virions. Although TRΔgO particles could not enter cells, cell-to-cell spread involving epithelial and endothelial cells was increased relative to TR, apparently resulting from increased quantities of gH/gL/UL128-131 in virions. Together, our data suggest that TR gO acts as a chaperone to promote ER export and the incorporation of gH/gL complexes into the HCMV envelope. Moreover, these data suggest that it is gH/gL, and not gH/gL/gO, that is present in virions and is required for infection of fibroblasts and epithelial and endothelial cells. Our observations that both gH/gL and gH/gL/UL128-131 are required for entry into epithelial/endothelial cells differ from models for other beta- and gammaherpesviruses that use one of two different gH/gL complexes to enter different cells.