Large DNA viruses such as herpesvirus and poxvirus encode proteins that target and exploit the chemokine system of their host. These proteins have the potential to block or change the orchestrated recruitment of leukocytes to sites of viral infection. The genome of Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpes virus (KSHV) encodes three chemokine-like proteins named vCCL1, vCCL2, and vCCL3. In this study vCCL3 was probed in parallel with vCCL1 and vCCL2 against a panel of the 18 classified human chemokine receptors. In calcium mobilization assays vCCL1 acted as a selective CCR8 agonist, whereas vCCL2 was found to act as a broad spectrum chemokine antagonist of human chemokine receptors, including the lymphotactin receptor. In contrast vCCL3 was found to be a highly selective agonist for the human lymphotactin receptor XCR1. The potency of vCCL3 was found to be 10-fold higher than the endogenous human XCL1 chemokine in respect to phosphatidylinositol turnover and calcium mobilization as well as chemotaxis. High expression of XCR1 was found in placenta and neutrophils by real-time PCR. These data are consistent with reports of different expression profiles for vCCL2 and vCCL3 during the life cycle of KSHV, indicate a novel, sophisticated exploitation by the virus of specifically the lymphotactin receptor by both agonist and antagonist mechanisms, and suggest a unique physiological importance of this (somewhat overlooked) chemokine receptor.
Keywords: Amino Acid Sequence; Animals; COS Cells; Calcium; Cercopithecus aethiops; Chemokines, CC; Chemotaxis; Herpesvirus 8, Human; Humans; Lymphocytes; Lymphokines; Models, Molecular; Molecular Sequence Data; Neutrophils; Receptors, CCR8; Receptors, Chemokine; Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled; Recombinant Proteins; Sequence Alignment; Sialoglycoproteins; Signal Transduction; Viral Proteins