Attenuation of chemokine receptor function and surface expression as an immunomodulatory strategy employed by human cytomegalovirus is linked to vGPCR US28

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Some herpesviruses like human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) encode viral G protein-coupled receptors that cause reprogramming of cell signaling to facilitate dissemination of the virus, prevent immune surveillance and establish life-long latency. Human GPCRs are known to function in complex signaling networks involving direct physical interactions as well as indirect crosstalk of orthogonal signaling networks. The human chemokine receptor CXCR4 is expressed on hematopoietic stem cells, leukocytes, endothelial and epithelial cells, which are infected by HCMV or display reservoirs of latency.

We investigated the potential heteromerization of US28 with CXCR4 as well as the influence of US28 on CXCR4 signaling. Using Bioluminescence Resonance Energy Transfer and luciferase-complementation based methods we show that US28 expression exhibits negative effects on CXCR4 signaling and constitutive surface expression in HEK293T cells. Furthermore, we demonstrate that this effect is not mediated by receptor heteromerization but via signaling crosstalk. Additionally, we show that in HCMV, strain TB40E, infected HUVEC the surface expression of CXCR4 is strongly downregulated, whereas in TB40E-delUS28 infected cells, CXCR4 surface expression is not altered in particular at late time points of infection.

We show that the vGPCR US28 is leading to severely disturbed signaling and surface expression of the chemokine receptor CXCR4 thereby representing an effective mechanism used by vGPCRs to reprogram host cell signaling. In contrast to other studies, we demonstrate that these effects are not mediated via heteromerization.
Original languageEnglish
Article number31
JournalCell Communication and Signaling
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2016

    Research areas

  • Viral G protein-coupled receptor US28, Chemokine receptor CXCR4, Constitutive activity, Bioluminescence resonance energy transfer, Bioluminescence complementation, Signaling crosstalk

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