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Interferon-Responsive Genes Are Targeted during the Establishment of Human Cytomegalovirus Latency.

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Elder, Elizabeth G 
Krishna, Benjamin A 
Williamson, James 
Lim, Eleanor Y 
Poole, Emma 


Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) latency is an active process which remodels the latently infected cell to optimize latent carriage and reactivation. This is achieved, in part, through the expression of viral genes, including the G-protein-coupled receptor US28. Here, we use an unbiased proteomic screen to assess changes in host proteins induced by US28, revealing that interferon-inducible genes are downregulated by US28. We validate that major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II and two pyrin and HIN domain (PYHIN) proteins, myeloid cell nuclear differentiation antigen (MNDA) and IFI16, are downregulated during experimental latency in primary human CD14+ monocytes. We find that IFI16 is targeted rapidly during the establishment of latency in a US28-dependent manner but only in undifferentiated myeloid cells, a natural site of latent carriage. Finally, by overexpressing IFI16, we show that IFI16 can activate the viral major immediate early promoter and immediate early gene expression during latency via NF-κB, a function which explains why downregulation of IFI16 during latency is advantageous for the virus.IMPORTANCE Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is a ubiquitous herpesvirus which infects 50 to 100% of humans worldwide. HCMV causes a lifelong subclinical infection in immunocompetent individuals but is a serious cause of mortality and morbidity in the immunocompromised and neonates. In particular, reactivation of HCMV in the transplant setting is a major cause of transplant failure and related disease. Therefore, a molecular understanding of HCMV latency and reactivation could provide insights into potential ways to target the latent viral reservoir in at-risk patient populations.



Cytomegalovirus, Interferon Response, Viral Latency, Ifi16, Us28

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Wellcome Trust (109075/Z/15/A)
Medical Research Council (G0701279)